March 10, 2006
What the World Needs Now is Good Water Governance
From UN Water:
Although unevenly distributed, the world has plenty of freshwater. However, mismanagement, limited resources and environmental changes mean that almost one-fifth of the planet’s population still lacks access to safe drinking water and 40 per cent lack access to basic sanitation. The United Nations World Water Development Report 2 released at the World Water Forum in Mexico City focuses on the importance of governance in managing the world’s water resources and tackling poverty.
Governance systems, it says, “determine who gets what water, when and how, and decide who has the right to water and related services.” Such systems are not limited to ‘government,’ but include local authorities, the private sector and civil society. They also cover a range of issues intimately connected to water, from health and food security, to economic development, land use and the preservation of the natural ecosystems on which our water resources depend.
The report highlights that
• Although significant and steady progress is being made, and that “at the global scale there is plenty of freshwater”, WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme estimates indicate that 1.1 billion people still do not have access to an adequate supply of drinking water and some 2.6 billion do not have access to basic sanitation. These people are among the world’s poorest. Over half of them live in China or India. At this rate of progress, regions such as sub-Saharan Africa will not meet the UN Millenium Development Goal of halving, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water. The MDG target of halving, by 2015, the proportion of people without basic sanitation will not be met globally if present trends persist. According to the report “mismanagement, corruption, lack of appropriate institutions, bureaucratic inertia and a shortage of new investments in building human capacity as well as physical infrastructure” is largely responsible for this situation.
• Poor water quality is a key cause of poor livelihood and health. Globally, diarrhoeral diseases and malaria killed about 3.1 million people in 2002. Ninety percent of these deaths were children under the age of five. An estimated 1.6 million lives could be saved annually by providing access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene.
• Water quality is declining in most regions. Evidence indicates that the diversity of freshwater species and ecosystems is deteriorating rapidly, often faster than terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The report points out that the hydrological cycle, upon which life depends, needs a healthy environment to function.
• Ninety percent of natural disasters are water-related events, and they are on the increase. Many are the result of poor land use. The tragic and developing drought in East Africa, where there has been huge felling of forests for charcoal production and fuel wood, is a poignant example. The report also cites the case of Lake Chad in Africa, which has shrunk by some 90 percent since the 1960s, mainly because of overgrazing, deforestation and large unsustainable irrigation projects. Two out of every five people now live in areas vulnerable to floods and rising sea-levels. The nations most at risk include Bangladesh, China, India, the Netherlands, Pakistan, the Philippines, the United States of America and the small island developing states. The report stresses that changing climate patterns will further exacerbate the situation.
• The world will need 55 percent more food by 2030 This translates into an increasing demand for irrigation, which already claims nearly 70 percent of all freshwater consumed for human use. Food production has greatly increased over the past 50 years, yet 13 percent of the global population (850 million people, mostly in rural areas) still do not have enough to eat.
• Half of humanity will be living in towns and cities by 2007. By 2030, this will have risen to nearly two thirds, resulting in drastic increases in water demand in urban areas. An estimated two billion of these people will be living in squatter settlements and slums. It is the urban poor who suffer the most from lack of clean water and sanitation.
• Over two billion people in developing countries do not have access to reliable forms of energy. Water is a key resource for energy generation, which in turn is vital for economic development. Europe makes use of 75 percent of its hydropower potential. Africa -- where 60 percent of the population has no access to electricity – has developed only 7 percent of its potential.
• In many places of the world, a colossal 30 to 40 percent or more of water goes unaccounted for, through water leakages in pipes and canals and illegal connections.
• Although there are no accurate figures, it is estimated that political corruption costs the water sector millions of dollars every year and undermines water services, especially to the poor. The report cites a survey in India for example, in which 41 percent of the customer respondents had made more than one small bribe in the past six months to falsify metre readings; 30 percent had made payments to expedite repair work and 12 percent had made payments to expedite new water and sanitation connections.
Recognising the vital part freshwater plays in human security and development, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, adopted by Member States and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 2002), called on countries to develop integrated water resources management and water efficiency plans by 2005. The report indicates that only about 12 percent of countries have done so to date, although many have begun the process.
Financial resources for water are also stagnating. According to the report, total Official Developpment Assistance (ODA) to the water sector in recent years has averaged approximately US$3 billion a year with an additional US$1.5 billion allocated to the sector in non-concessional lending, mainly by the World Bank. However, only a small proportion (12 percent) of these funds reach those most in need. And only about ten percent is directed to support development of water policy, planning and programmes.
Added to this, private sector investment in water services is declining. During the 1990s the private sector spent an estimated US$25 billion in water supply and sanitation in developing countries, mostly in Latin America and Asia. However, many big multinational water companies have begun withdrawing from or downsizing their operations in the developing world because of the high political and financial risks.
Although their performance has often failed to meet the expectations of developing country governments and donor countries, the report stresses that it “would be a mistake” to write off the private sector. Financially strained governments with weak regulations, it finds, “are a poor alternative for addressing the issue of poor water resources management and inadequate supplies of water services”.
Water usage increased six-fold during the 20th century, twice the rate of population growth. Our ability to meet the continually increasing global demand, says the report, will depend on good governance and management of available resources.
“Good governance is essential for managing our increasingly-stretched supplies of freshwater and indispensable for tackling poverty,” says UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura. “There is no one blueprint for good governance, which is both complex and dynamic. But we know that it must include adequate institutions – nationally, regionally and locally, strong, effective legal frameworks and sufficient human and financial resources.”
ABA SEER LNG Development Projects Teleconference
In light of the approval of the Trans-Siberian pipeline past Lake Baikal and European plans to make long-term contracts with Russia for LNG, LNG development is a timely topic. ABA SEER will have a quick teleconference on LNG Development on Tuesday, March 18, 2006
12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time
11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Central Time
10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Mountain Time
9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Pacific Time
Program Overview: In the U.S., natural-gas prices are up fivefold since the beginning of the decade, and approach record highs. About 57 percent of the nation's households use natural gas for heat, according to the Census Bureau. Natural gas also is used for such purposes as generating electricity and producing plastics and fertilizer. Demand has grown amid a strengthening economy and interest in cleaner-burning fuel. While the majority of natural gas consumed in the U.S. comes from North American wells, many fields are aging and the industry has found it difficult to boost production. With domestic production leveled off, the energy industry expected to compensate with imports of liquefied natural gas or LNG. In some areas of the United States, including New England, the supply-demand balance for natural gas could be tipped as early as 2007, but certainly by 2010, unless new delivery infrastructure is built. On the supply side, most of the worldwide gas reserves are "stranded" and not connected to pipeline infrastructure or markets. Liquefaction of these stranded gas reserves is the method for bringing this natural gas to market. The process has been occurring for decades in many parts of the world, but is a relatively recent phenomenon in the United States. In 2001, the industry began the process of reopening mothballed liquefied natural gas terminals and proposed building dozens of new ones with almost 60 projects currently announced for North America. The federal government streamlined the regulatory process with amendments to the Deepwater Port Act in 2002 and the Energy Policy Act of 2005. As with any intensive energy infrastructure project, the environmental issues are myriad and complex.
The purpose of this conference it to highlight some of the more common environmental issues that arise in connection with LNG project development. Among those issues can be concerns related thermal impacts due to cryogenic temperatures, sea-water vaporization methods, air emissions, seismic concerns, exclusion zones for potential vapor clouds and radiant heat, as well as traditional project development issues related to wetlands, storm water discharge, and traffic. The conference will review both upstream and downstream environmental impacts from LNG development and community concerns in the U.S. and in Sakhalin Island, Russia.
Moderator: George Rusk, Vice President, Ecology & Environment, Inc., Lancaster, NY
William H. Daughdrill, Marine Safety Specialist, Ecology & Environment, Inc., Baton Rouge, LA
David Gordon, Pacific Environment, San Francisco, CA
Dianne Phillips, Holland & Knight LLP, Boston, MA
A Major Ecosystem Shift in the Northern Bering Sea -- Grebmeier et al. 311 (5766): 1461 -- Science
Contemporary climates changes have shifted an entire ecosystem, the Northern Bering Sea. A study by Grebmeier published today online by Science details those changes. A Major Ecosystem Shift in the Northern Bering Sea
Until recently, northern Bering Sea ecosystems were characterized by extensive seasonal sea ice cover, high water column and sediment carbon production, and tight pelagic-benthic coupling of organic production. Here, we show that these ecosystems are shifting away from these characteristics. Changes in biological communities are contemporaneous with shifts in regional atmospheric and hydrographic forcing. In the past decade, geographic displacement of marine mammal population distributions has coincided with a reduction of benthic prey populations, an increase in pelagic fish, a reduction in sea ice, and an increase in air and ocean temperatures. These changes now observed on the shallow shelf of the northern Bering Sea should be expected to affect a much broader portion of the Pacific-influenced sector of the Arctic Ocean.
Playing the Global Warming Game: Robert Socolow's World Bank Speech
Robert Socolow, the keynote speaker at the Exeter conference Socolow Exeter Speech.pdf and the Director of the Carbon Mitigation Initiative gave a speech yesterday at the World Bank based on his paper with Steve Pacala. Socolow and Pacala, Solving the Climate Problem for the Next 50 Years (full text-subscription req) Their paper was part of a Science special issue. This links you with a review and table of contents of that issue. Not so simple
Socolow invited his audience to play a mind game about how to limit global warming, using their concept of stabilization wedges -- 1 billion tons of carbon per year. His talk identifies and evaluates many carbon stabilization strategies.
[[BTW, there are commercially available Global Warming games -- something to spice up that long class. Keep Cool (there is an American bookstore who distributes it for those of you in the US).]]
Socolow's take home message for the Bank was simple: Mitigating basic human needs has a negligible impact on the climate problem and mitigation must begin now in developing countries.
The gist of his talk (paraphrased and edited from the transcript provided by E & E News) was:
Assume (1) climate change is a real problem and (2) we can't easily displace fossil fuels. These are the most pessimistic and most realistic assumptions.
Assume two options 50 years from now: (1) business as usual, which doubles current emissions in 2055 and (2) cap emissions at the current level - about 7 billion tons of carbon per year -- which triples the emissions in 1955. So at a minimum, we want to beat doubline. Although environmentalists argue that we should try to cut emissions by 50%, we'll be lucky to cap them in the next 50 years and then head downward in the following 50 years. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was about 280 parts per million until the 1800s. Now we are breathing air with 380 ppm, increasing about 2 ppm per year. So we're about a third of the way to doubling. If we wait 50 years and then cap, we would be essentially accepting tripling.
Understand as best you can what is at stake in climate terms, in the environmental impacts terms, of accepting tripling versus beating doubling. There a lot of monsters behind the door. Things that show up sometimes in climate models and not in others, but that are clearly conceivable outcomes, that are nonlinear outcomes; the shutting down of the thermal haline circulation, the gulf stream that warms northern and western Europe, the reappearance regularly of the Sahel drought, which kills millions of people, damaging the Amazon, droughts.
Making a judgment together about whether beating doubling or accepting tripling should be our objective. And I must say, somewhat to my surprise, as the public understands this problem they are saying let's get on with a solution.
What would it be like to beat doubling instead of accepting tripling? What does that entail? I come with a message of optimism. The interim goal, no more emissions 50 years globally -- 50 years from now than today, is achievable for three reasons. The world has a terribly inefficient energy system. Carbon emissions have just begun to be priced. Most of the year 2055 physical plant has not been built, although it is being built, what will be around in 2055 is being built at a large rate all over the world. And so every year 2055 is that much closer.
To stabilize emissions, divide the 7 billion tons of carbon per year into stabilization wedge -- 50 years wide, 1 billion tons high -- so it is 25 billion tons of carbon that have not gone into the atmosphere as a result of some campaign. At $ 100 US per ton, its $2.5 trillion at stake. Well, that's a pretty big business. It's a business opportunity. Many opportunities.
By far the most important are energy efficiency opportunities: Building buildings that are more energy efficient, a more efficient car fleet, more efficient industry, more efficient trucking, all across the entire use of energy we have opportunities for more efficient power plants.
Then, decarbonize electricity and decarbonize fuel. 40% of carbon is from power plants; 60% in vehicles or in stationary sources, like a factory or a home furnace.
It is my view it is harder to decarbonize fuels than to decarbonize electricity. So another wedge is replacing fuel application with a decarbonized electricity application. For example, we have a car that runs on -- a hybrid car running half of the time on a battery and half of the time on the engine -- electricity. Now today that battery is charged from the gasoline engine, but it could be charged at home from an outlet at your home, that's called a plug-in hybrid. If that electricity sector were decarbonized you would be driving your vehicle -- half of the driving would be on the decarbonized electricity and the other half, let's say, on gasoline. Similarly the heat pumped into buildings displaces a gas furnace with an electric system, if this electricity system is easier to decarbonize. That's a class of wedges.
Another opportunity: build up carbon in the forests and in the soils. We reduce deforestation. We re-growth more intensive forest where we have forests now. We bring forests to where we don't have them now. We make grasslands more successful. And we put carbon into soil, building back carbon that's been removed from the soil by agriculture, by deliberate agricultural practices. All of that helps, but only amounts to 1 or 2 wedges from the forest and soil sector.
And there's the other than CO2 wedge -- we can look for a wedge or two in better management of methane, nitrous oxide, and some of the fluorocarbons.
We have wedge technologies somewhere at commercial scale in many instances. And we can beat doubling without relying on any new technology. But you can't get the whole job done by any single wedge technology. You need a portfolio.
Half of carbon is created from three fuels for three functions: gas, oil and coal as the fuel and three functions: generating electricity, transportation, and heating: mostly coal for power, petroleum for transportation, and heating from all fuels. So we have to attack all three sectors: heating, transportation and power.
There will be 2 billion personal transport vehicles in the world in 2055. There are six or seven hundred million now, depending on how you count. So triple of what we have. And if those are going 10,000 miles a year, and they are getting 60 miles a gallon versus 30 miles a gallon, a wedge is at stake. In other words, you've got two billion tons of carbon going into the atmosphere if they're getting 30 miles a gallon and one billion tons of carbon going into the atmosphere per year if they're getting 60 miles a gallon. So that's how you save a wedge. Likewise, if they're getting 30 miles a gallon, but you're driving them half as far, somehow we've reorganized our cities so 5000 miles a year is an average travel. Then you have a half a wedge saved that way. But if you have efficiency and improved use, that's one and a half wedges, not two. Public transport and telecommuting can have a major role reducing vehicle miles travel..
In electricity the power plant can be more efficient. We can have more efficient lighting in buildings and motor controls. And it's very hard to have -- building's data are terrible compared to all other data. How much energy are we using in buildings today? What is it being used for? How fast is buildings -- is electricity load growing because of buildings construction in the new buildings of the developing world? There needs to be a commitment to get a much better handle on this sector. More than half of electricity use in the world is going to buildings today, probably more -- probably a higher fraction than that of the new -- of new kilowatt hours are going to buildings. We need to think of buildings as equivalent to power plants. And we don't. And then when we would, we'd pay more attention to the building sector.
Of course now we can think about decarbonizing electricity. A billion tons of carbon per year are emitted when six -- when 700 modern coal plants of 1000 megawatt size run for the year. So we have 1000 -- our target is to not build seven hundred 1,000 megawatt coal plants. So that by 2055, if those plants don't exist, and something else existed and it's no carbon, we have achieved a wedge. Well one way to have that is to have, by 2055, one million two megawatt windmills on the planet that have been produced instead of coal. That would be a wedge. Those two megawatt windmills, that's about the size of the larger windmills built today. We have already got 50,000 megawatts. We're two and a half percent of the way. And it is growing at thirty percent a year. Nonetheless a million two megawatt windmills is a pretty daunting proposition. And that's one wedge.
One message is that renewable energy has a tough time producing wedges in terms of the scale of the operation compared to what we're used to on the one hand. And on the other, yes, it can contribute wedges by major attention. It doesn't make sense to have inefficient lighting connected to all these windmills or coal plants. So the efficiency coming first and then the renewable energy coming behind it is the way to think about this problem in my view.
Nuclear power is certainly non carbon technology: so 700,000 megawatt nuclear plants displacing coal is also a wedge. Seven hundred thousand megawatts of nuclear power is twice what we have right now, so phasing out nuclear power completely and having coal instead would be minus one half of a wedge. And tripling nuclear energy would be plus one wedge.
If it turns out, and this is not fully decided yet, but it's looking promising, that you can have coal power and still put the carbon dioxide not in the atmosphere, but under the ground, geological carbon sequestration. And 800 of these large coal plants in 2055 with a carbon capture system would be a wedge. Another option is to put it in deep ocean. That's technically possible, but politically, very unpopular.
It's clear that at the individual project level it works. There are two major unsettled questions (1) is there really enough capacity to put large -- the CO2 of large numbers of plants below ground? And the IPCC has just proclaimed that, yes, there is a century's worth of storage with high probability and (2) are we sure it will stay down if we put it down?
[See continuation for more about carbon capture and storage]
If we get to decarbonization of fuels as opposed to decarbonization of electricity, the options are biofuels, something the Europeans and the Americans have gotten rather suddenly excited about expanding on a very large industrial scale to displace some of the gasoline in your gasoline tank or your diesel in your diesel truck engine, with something that grew from the ground. It could be sugarcane in Brazil, which is where this picture is from. It could be corn. It could be many other crops, switch grass. It takes a lot of land to produce the fuel to displace the vehicle fuel that we have at this time, hundreds of millions of hectares. It would be a major commitment of parts of planet Earth to go this way, but it does solve simultaneously some of the concerns about global oil, both the geological dimensions and the geopolitical dimensions and climate change. So it has a lot of appeal. The question is do we really want to develop a technology of this kind at the scale required relative to other things we could do with land? And we may all choose, yes, but we are really just beginning that dialogue.
In competition with that will be one of the things that is most scary from a climate perspective, which is that we'll make synthetic fuels from coal to deal with the limited hydrocarbons below ground. This will be available -- coal is relatively cheap. The technologies of making liquids from coal are there. Let me put it to you this way, a mile of driving or a kilometer of driving with a gasoline that came from crude oil is going to put about half as much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as if that gasoline -- compared to having that gasoline come from coal. It is that carbon wasteful.
That second amount of carbon dioxide is however being emitted at the plant, which is turning coal into synthetic fuel. So it's there to be captured, and so you could break even relative to crude oil if you did capture it. And as I understand that the governor of Montana is saying, okay, we can do that. We'll make that part of the package. And that's -- I'm calling for kind of a covenant among the engineers of this world not to go down the coal to liquids route without a commitment to carbon dioxide capture and storage. And of course policymakers could make a great deal of difference in making that happen.
So I invite you to play a game where you imagine two worlds in 2055 with the same pair of size skyscrapers. One of them emitting 14 billion tons of carbon per year and the other seven, anyway you like. I made myself do it once a while back and I say you can play too. The goal is to decarbonize the future economy. And what is appealing about stabilization wedges? They do not concede that doubling is inevitable. So the politicians who really didn't want to see that happen said, okay, I need to learn more. And it shortens the time frame to 50 years from 100. Business and government horizons are actually, particularly business horizons, 50 years out is not an impossible thing to get a conversation about.
Some of you know that much of the literature on climate change has had a hundred year focus, in which case most people start thinking about well this is a job for 2060 and 2070 and I can pay attention to something else. We're emphasizing that if you want to beat doubling it's a problem for today. It decomposes a heroic challenge into a limited set of monumental tasks. It establishes a unit of action that permits quantitative discussion of costs, pace and risk. And a unit of action that facilitates quantitative comparison and trade off. It creates a dialogue. One of our goals was to get people into the same room who don't enjoy each other, who come at it with favored technologies and say can we work together to get this problem solved? None of us can do it alone.
But I started asking the question what kind of climate impact does basic human needs -- meeting basic human needs have? Assuming that we use fossil fuels to address basic human needs. And identified two of those as the energy component of basic human needs; the electricity with unclean cooking fuels. Maybe there's a third, but those to seem to be the dominant ones. And I say this is clearly political and not technical. Power can be brought to all villages. There are countries which have done so. An indoor air quality catastrophe, I don't think that's too weak a word related to cooking fuels in rural and urban areas, so much public health damage from indoor cooking with low quality fuels. And they can be solved with modern fuels. Modern fuels seem to be basically gases and liquids, typically gases in canisters.
And I say the diesel fuel for village scale engines and the LPG, the propane essentially, and the Dimethyl ether for fuel, for clean cooking fuels, both of which can be in these canisters under compression that are being used all over the world today. They can be produced from biomass, from natural gas, from crude oil, from coal. Largely they're going to be produced from fossil fuels. Let's not be frightened of meeting basic human needs with fossil fuels. Use the right ones, use in the right place. Meeting these needs for all humanity has a negligible effect on global carbon emissions. If that's the cheapest way to do it and gets it done first, it's not the carbon problem that is the basic human needs problem. They almost don't overlap. 1.6 billion people have no access to electricity and 2.6 billion have no access to modern cooking fuels. A billion difference because the urban families are still using poor cooking fuel -- most of the extra billion are urban poor who have electricity but no modern cooking fuel.
Then there's the need to estimate sufficiency. And I took 50 watts per capita, which is a higher number than most of you are likely to use. That of course is 36 kilowatt hours per capita per month, 400 kilowatt hours per capita per year, so maybe 1800 kilowatt hours per capita for a family per year.
Families in many of the developing countries who use these propane canisters use a propane canister per month. And from that comes the need for 35 kilograms of propane per capita per year. Just turn that into carbon units by multiplication. And there's one more number you need to do to go to carbon and that's how carbon intensive is the electricity? Well if it's wind electricity it's zero. But take the world average, let's say some of this gets done one way and some the other, that's 160 kilograms of carbon for a kilowatt hour, carbon, not carbon dioxide. That adds up to 2/10 of a wedge. So it is certainly not the case that meeting basic human needs conflicts with capping emissions. Americans in the energy industries who look at the developing world say we've got all these poor people and when they get carbon we will have a carbon problem. They've conflated developing countries development on the one hand and meeting basic human needs at the very poor on the other.
More generally, what's important to distinguish problems of poverty and problems of modernity. The problems of poverty are largely matters of political will. The most solvent governments are sufficiently motivated to give priority to equity in public health. Problems of modernity are the problems of low cost hydrocarbons, running out of low-cost oil if you like, and the buildup of carbon dioxide. They are really hard. They take more than political will. No country can solve such problems on its own. There's really no country that demonstrates what you need to do at the present time. But there is an immense amount that every country needs to do and can do. And the problems are nearly overlapping -- nearly not overlapping, scarcely overlapping.
It is time to mitigate carbon now: middle class consumption, city building, power plant construction, factories. It is not the basic human needs there we're talking about when we talk about carbon dioxide mitigation. Not letting the developing country's carbon emissions go up any more than letting the carbon dioxide emissions of Europe or the United States or Japan go up. There is this argument coming from the European greens in particular, and less so now than a few years ago, that developing countries should not be burdened with carbon mitigation until significant steps have been taken in industrialized countries. With such friends, who needs enemies?
Much of the world's construction of long lived carbon dioxide is in developing countries. Long live capital stock. That's what I want you to focus on. Buildings, power plants, power plants will be around for 60 years, buildings for 100. Unless energy efficiency and carbon efficiency are incorporated into new buildings and power plants now, wherever they are built, these facilities will become a liability when a price is later put on carbon dioxide emissions. Instead, call for leapfrogging, all of us, the introduction of advanced technologies in developing countries first. Or at least no later than in industrialized countries. Demonstration cities that deal with the air conditioning issue of the tropical cities that are growing with completely innovative methods of building design for example. The laying out of new cities in a sensible fashion. The world learns faster, reducing everyone's costs. Leapfrogging, which is a word I hope all of you know, is a path to globally coordinated mitigation. And there's a banking problem for sure, to compensate those who move first, but it's a separate problem from deciding that you need to do it.
I think there is political content to these wedges. I'm talking to a group of people who know how to think about this better than I do. It's, again, getting people who don't like each other into the same room. And they will agree, I think, that it is already time to act. It is too soon to pick winners. These are the things that they agree upon, even though they disagree about so much. Subsidy at early stages is often desirable, but at later stages markets help to choose the best wedges. The best wedges for one country may not be the best for another. And the environmental and social costs of scale up need attention. The last point, which is that one or two windmills is not the same as hundreds of thousands of them. One or two bio plant -- bio fuel plantations is not the same as hundreds of them. That they have cumulative impacts that are separate from the ones you see one at a time. We have to call that out and pay attention to that issue.
But those are things people agree upon. So there is a potential for early action that is based on dividing the job. And I must say, relative to where the Kyoto structure has been developed, which is a real bipolar world. It's a world where everybody truly has a responsibility. Note for example that national subsidies elicited most of the technologies that I'm allowed to put on the list for available wedges because they are commercialized. They have been commercialized, typically, in one or two countries, typically not because of climate, typically 10 or 20 years ago, usually because of energy security. Nations did experiments and do experiments and then the world learns from those national experiments. So we need to encourage that.
The United States for example has done most of the enhanced oil recovery using carbon dioxide because of a subsidy of domestic oil production in the 1980s, which led to a very large amount of experience with piping carbon dioxide from one place to the next hundreds of miles. And putting it below ground and seeing where it was below ground and handling it. There was a lot of learning. And Norway has joined in that and other countries now of course. But in point of fact this was the US who demonstrated this technology for reasons having nothing to do with climate, but that is really a value to the world.
In wind most of that new learning has been in Europe, which subsidized a lot of wind for a variety of reasons, not only climate. And we are the beneficiaries. We know how to make wind a lot more cheaply than before all of that happened. Nuclear power, various countries subsidized the early stages of nuclear power. They're still subsidizing of course, but there's been a great deal of learning. The Chinese make hydrogen from coal rather than from natural gas as most of the rest of the world does. They use that hydrogen for nitrogen fertilizer, ammonia fertilizer. A lot of the early understanding of coal gasification comes from the Chinese experience. Biofuels in Brazil is of course terribly well known. Wood waste in Sweden has been a pioneering area and in the coal to syn fuels world, because of apartheid rules, it is in the case that South Africa is the country that has pushed coal to syn fuels the furthest. There are others that you can add, but the message is that countries experiment and the world benefits. And that we have to think about that when we think about a World Bank portfolio for example.
So just join me in thinking about what we -- locate one's self in 2055 and say we've gotten the job done. I'm nearly finished. A world with the same total of CO2 emissions in 2055 is today. Have we all had lots of struggle and pain and has it all been uphill? Well not entirely. It would be a world where institutions of carbon management have reliably communicated the price of carbon, something we would all like to see. If there are wedges of nuclear power, strong international enforcement mechanisms to control nuclear proliferation will have been put in place. I can't imagine nuclear power expanding in a world that's on the verge of nuclear war in five or six places. We will have somehow come to terms with that duality. If wedges of carbon dioxide capture and storage are achieved, there will have been widespread permitting of geological storage, which means that the case that you can do it safely will have been made. And that would be -- if that's -- it won't have been made if it isn't a sensible case. So we would presumably be sitting down looking at that and some satisfaction.
If wedges of renewable energy and enhanced storage in forest and soils are achieved there would've been a lot of rural development and extensive land reclamation associated with all of that. There would be a planetary consciousness. We won't get there without thinking that we're on a planet together, as the woman from Norway expressed so eloquently. And that is not an unhappy prospect.
Can we do it? People are becoming increasingly anxious about our limited understanding of the experiments we are performing on the only earth we have and are learning that there are ways to live more cautiously. We should anticipate a discontinuity. What has seemed too hard to do, what has seemed too hard, becomes what simply must be done. Precedents include abolishing child labor, addressing the needs of the disabled and mitigating air pollution. They all looked too hard. And we went through this period of deciding that what seemed too hard becomes simply what must be done.
Let me reiterate my two messages for the World Bank audience that are really for you. Mitigating basic human needs has a negligible impact on the climate problem and mitigation must begin now in developing countries. Thank you.
more on carbon capture and storage
The picture I showed you before I've blown up here to tell you just a little bit about carbon dioxide capture and storage. That picture is of a US Department of Energy demonstration project built in the late 1990s in Indiana, Wabash, Indiana, which is a plant which gasifies coal. And sends that gas to a combined -- a gas turbine and then to a steam turbine, so combined cycle power. It isn't a carbon capture and storage plant, but that first step of gasification is really the critical one to enable this technology to work. And with additional processing you can turn that gas into a mixture of hydrogen and carbon dioxide, before you've burned anything. And then you take the hydrogen to a turbine, so it's hydrogen power. Then you take the carbon dioxide off-site and somewhere else. So the step -- there's an additional chemical step and then a separation step and then the carbon dioxide disposal step. Those three additional steps will bring you from this Wabash plant to a carbon capture and storage plant.
Only two weeks ago British Petroleum announced that it will do a very similar project to this with carbon capture and storage in Southern California, in Long Beach, California. Not using coal, the petroleum coke, which is the bottom of the barrel at a refinery. That's a nasty fuel that has been burned and generally -- in rather -- it is not a very clean fuel. Instead of burning it the way they've been burning it they will -- they and presumably much of the rest of the oil industry and short time, will consider gasification and CO2 capture as part of its handling of that fuel. It's a similar scale to this project. It will look a lot like this, but it will be in Long Beach, California.
The carbon has to go somewhere. And of course this is a serious issue. And the scale -- there has been a -- the very first demonstration project was in Norway, in Norway starting in the mid-90s. And since then, and steadily, they've put one million tons of carbon dioxide below ground. That's about 300,000 tons of carbon, so you need more than 3000 projects of this sort to put a wedge of CO2 below ground. So this is a large amount of carbon dioxide movement and placement that is entailed, a very large industry of simply managing carbon dioxide. Which will only happen, for those of you in policy, if there's a price on putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Otherwise you can always vent it for less or almost always vent it for less. There are some places were carbon dioxide has value, especially something called enhanced oil recovery, but for the most part carbon policy is absolutely essential to bring this about.
And there is a project. Now I want to emphasize the developing world. In Algeria there is a carbon dioxide injection project run by Sonatrach, the Algerian company, along with Stat Oil and BP, that looks like this. That for about a year now, this is all very new stuff, has been putting carbon dioxide below ground that they had to separate for natural gas in order to put natural gas into the European grid through pipelines across the Mediterranean. And so that process, instead of venting the CO2, in order to learn about the technology, develop first mover advantage, these three oil companies are doing that at the present time.
I'm going to skip this one to keep going.
Nearly 6000 scientists sign letter to protect the Endangered Species Act
The biologists letter to Congress is available on the Union of Concerned Scientists web site. UCS Site - Biologists Letter on ESA The site also has a copy with the full list of signers, but be careful, it is a 150 page PDF file because of the number of signers. That full file is available here. Biologists ESA Letter full list of signers.pdf You can also click on a map to get a list of signers from your region.
WHAT THEY SAID:
A Letter from Biologists to the United States Senate
We are writing as biologists with expertise in a variety of scientific disciplines that concern
biological diversity and the loss of species. With the Senate considering policies that could have
long-lasting impacts on this nation's species diversity, we ask that you take into account scientific
principles that are crucial to species conservation. Biological diversity provides food, fiber,
medicines, clean water, and myriad other ecosystem products and services on which we depend
every day. If we look only at well-studied species groups, nearly one-third of native species in the
United States are at risk of disappearing.¹ Extinction is truly irreversible - once gone, individual
species and all of the services that they provide us cannot be brought back.
On December 8, 1973, President Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act ("ESA") with
the goal of conserving endangered and threatened species and the ecosystems on which they depend.
For species that have been listed and provided protection under the ESA, much of that purpose
has been achieved. According to an article in the September 30, 2005, edition of Science,
less than one percent of listed species have gone extinct since 1973, while 10 percent of candidate
species still waiting to be listed have suffered that fate. In addition to the hundreds of species that
the Act has protected from extinction, listing has contributed to population increases or the
stabilization of populations for at least 35 percent of listed species, and perhaps significantly more,
as well as the recovery of such signature species as the peregrine falcon. While complete recovery
has been realized for just two percent of species listed, given the precarious state of most species
when listed, this represents significant progress.
One of the great strengths of the Endangered Species Act is its foundation in sound scientific
principles and its reliance on the best available science.² Unfortunately, recent legislative proposals
would critically weaken this foundation. For species conservation to continue, it is imperative both
that the scientific principles embodied in the Act are maintained, and that the Act is strengthened,
fully implemented, and adequately funded.
distinct population segments as endangered or threatened under the Act. While non-scientific factors
may appropriately be considered at points later in the process of protecting species, their use
in listing decisions is inconsistent with biologically defensible principles. Due to the fragile state
of many of those species that require the Act's protections, the listing process needs to proceed
as promptly as possible; otherwise, species will go extinct while waiting to be listed.
needs for its survival; habitat loss and degradation are the principal reasons for the decline of
most species at risk. Habitat protection is essential if species are to be conserved and
the goals of the ESA are to be met. The relationship between species, their habitats,
and the threats they face can be exceedingly complex. Therefore, the chances of species recovery
are maximized when habitat protection is based on sound scientific principles, and
when the determinations of the biological needs of at-risk species are scientifically well informed.
The obligation for federal agencies to consult with the appropriate wildlife agency and its biologists
when federal actions could affect habitat for listed species is an indispensable provision in the ESA.
It provides the means for science to inform decisions about the habitat-dependent
survival and recovery of species at-risk. The designation of critical habitat places
further obligations on the Federal government to, among other things, protect the habitat
essential to species recovery. It is far more effective, far easier, and far less expensive to
protect functioning natural habitats than it is to recreate them once they are gone.
and has been flexible enough over time to accommodate evolving scientific information
and practice. Failure to keep the ESA open to the use of scientific information from the
best available research and monitoring, and to rely on impartial scientific experts, will
contribute to delays in species recovery and to species declines and extinctions. Critical
scientific information should not only include current empirical data, but also, for example,
historic habitat and population information, population surveys, habitat and population modeling,
and taxonomic and genetic studies. Use of scientific knowledge should not be hampered
by administrative requirements that overburden or slow the Act's implementation,
or by limiting consideration of certain types of scientific information.
and are responsive to new information. Recovery plans must be based on the
best possible information about the specific biology of each species, must identify threats
to each species and address what is needed to mitigate those threats,
and must predict how species are likely to respond to mitigation measures that may be adopted.
To be most effective, recovery plans need to incorporate scientific principles
of adaptive management, so they can be updated as new information on species
and their habitats becomes available. Changes to the ESA that would delay completion
of recovery plans, or provide for inflexible recovery goals that cannot be informed
by new or additional scientific knowledge, should be avoided.
Scientific Advances and New Issues
their uses of habitats, and threats to those resources since the ESA was first passed into law.
Serious, new, and as yet insufficiently addressed issues, such as global warming
and invasive species, have emerged as primary environmental concerns that affect the fate
of our native species diversity. We urge Congress to initiate thorough studies to consider
the foremost problems that drive species toward extinction.
Losing species means losing the potential to solve some of humanity's most intractable problems,
including hunger and disease. The Endangered Species Act is more than just a law -
it is the ultimate safety net in our life support system. As Earth has changed and as science
has progressed since the Endangered Species Act was authorized in 1973, the ESA has served
our nation well, largely because of its flexibility and its solid foundation in science. It is crucial
to maintain these fundamental principles. The challenges of effective implementation of the Act
should not be interpreted to require substantive rewriting of this valuable, well-functioning piece
Thank you very much for taking our concerns into account. We are available to discuss any
and all of the issues we have raised.
¹From NatureServe, an international network of scientists cataloguing biological diversity.
Why NOAA Didn't Help Connect the Dots -- Hurricane Katrina and Global Warming
update: why the NOAA scientists didn't help us connect the dots: from the Wall Street Journal
Some Government Scientists
See Link to Global WarmingBy ANTONIO REGALADO and JIM CARLTON
February 16, 2006; Page A4
Amid a growing outcry from climate researchers in its own ranks, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration backed away from a statement it released after last year's powerful hurricane season that discounted any link to global warming. A corrected statement, which says some NOAA researchers disagree with that view, was posted to NOAA's Web site yesterday.The change is part of a high-stakes fight over the issue of global warming, and what some scientists complain is a widening gap between what their research shows and White House climate policy. Three NOAA scientists, speaking in interviews, said the agency has begun keeping closer tabs on their comments to journalists. One of them also said the agency has declined to let him take part in interviews on controversial topics. Such charges have been publicly leveled by scientists outside the agency since December. They gained force last week when James Hansen, a climate researcher at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, again accused NOAA of censoring scientific communication. Dr. Hansen has said NASA public-affairs officials had tried to discourage him from presenting his views that human activities could lead to severe global warming. Late Tuesday, NOAA administrator Conrad C. Lautenbacher Jr., sent an email to agency staff saying that he encourages "scientists to speak freely and openly" and rejected charges that NOAA scientists have been discouraged from commenting on whether human-caused global warming is influencing hurricanes.In the wake of Dr. Hansen's comments, some NOAA scientists say they are now speaking out.Pieter Tans, a researcher who studies carbon dioxide at NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., says public-affairs "minders" now sit in on more interviews, something that didn't happen before. He said he sees it as an attempt to control comments about the dangers of climate change. A ruckus erupted after the November issue of the agency's magazine said there was a "consensus" among NOAA hurricane experts that increases in hurricane activity were primarily the result of natural factors -- even though within NOAA some believed man-made warming was a key cause. Kerry Emanuel, a climate researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said he found the statement problematic because it appeared to represent an official NOAA position, and might discourage agency scientists from contradicting it. Dr. Emanuel, who believes global warming is making hurricanes worse, was among the first to publicly criticize NOAA's policy at a major meeting in December, where he termed it "censorship." Scott Smullen, NOAA's deputy director of public affairs, said the article was never meant to be an official position, and added that the use of the word "consensus" was a mistake made by one of his staff members. "There is no consensus," Mr. Smullen said. Thomas Knutson, a research meteorologist with the agency's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J., said he believes his views have been censored by the NOAA public-affairs office because of his view that global warming could be making hurricanes worse. Last October the public-affairs office said no to a scheduled interview with CNBC television, he said. "NOAA public affairs called and asked what I would say to certain questions, like is there a trend in Atlantic hurricanes," Dr. Knutson said. "I said I thought there was a possibility of a trend emerging that tropical hurricanes were becoming more intense. They turned down that interview." Mr. Smullen says he wasn't aware of that particular case, but notes that Dr. Knutson gives dozens of interviews a year, and that interview requests can be turned down for numerous reasons. On another occasion, Dr. Knutson said he had been invited around the time of Hurricane Katrina to appear on a television show with Ron Reagan, the son of former President Reagan who is co-host of a show on MSNBC. But shortly before he was to appear, he got a voice mail from a person in public affairs. "He said, 'The White House turned it down,' " Dr. Knutson said. White House officials said they weren't immediately aware of any attempt on their part to block Dr. Knutson's interview, but added they don't censor government scientists. They added NOAA researchers gave numerous interviews during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. "Dr. Tom Knutson took part in those interviews and is a leading climate modeler and well respected in the scientific community," said White House spokeswoman Michele St. Martin. NOAA officials say the White House doesn't rule on their media requests. They also say they weren't immediately aware of the Ron Reagan matter, but add they usually decline media requests when it appears they are frivolous. "If someone were to call in and it is in the nature of a food fight, we decline that," said Jordan St. John, director of NOAA's public affairs. "We are a serious science agency."
In Science, Kerr addresses the relationship between anthropogenic climate change and hurricanes. Until recently, there were no empirical studies supporting climate change modeling results that predicted an increase in hurricane intensity. However, the data is catching up to the models. Today, Science published a new study by Webster et al suggesting that numbers and duration of hurricanes are indeed growing in the North Atlantic, but not in other oceans that are experiencing temperature increases. All basins are experiencing increasing numbers of category 4 and 5 hurricanes. Webster - Changes in Tropical Cyclone Number, Duration, and Intensity in a Warming Environment Summarized by the Economist. Hurricanes Human-caused climate change to date may be part of the explanation, but scientists are not certain. However, human-caused climate change may become a more significant a driver of hurricane intensity as warming continues through the century. [updated 9/15]
Original post 8/31/05 with cites and comments:
At the beginning of August, we knew that there would be more tropical storms/hurricanes. See post of 8/2/05. Hurricane frequency/dead zone post. That post reported NOAAs August hurricane outlook. ( Expert Assessments: Atlantic Hurricane Outlook Update). We also knew that the increasing intensity of tropical storms/hurricanes has been tied to climate change. See post of 8/1/05. Hurricane intensity post reporting Emanuel study , Trenbarth Summary, discussion on the climate science scientists' blog: Real Climate Storms and Global Warming , NOAA's Knutson Global warming and hurricanes, and Knutson and Tuleya comparative model study Knutson and Tuleya .
As hurricanes hit land, they increasingly encounter densely developed areas -- due to population growth and government policies that encourage development in vulnerable areas [I'm willing to go out on a limb here] -- that have lost their natural ability to absorb floods because of the destruction of wetlands [which is one of the principal reasons we protect wetlands]. Population growth, development in vulnerable areas, wetlands destruction, poor engineering, failure to fund known and feasible preventative measures, inadequate response planning (and in hindsight inadequate response implementation) are all culprits.
The way I connect the dots of climate change is that the climate change we are inducing is taking and will increasingly take a huge toll in human life -- including, but not limited to, human lives destroyed in hurricanes like Katrina. early reporting on impacts The climate change approach that has been pursued by the United States, which fails to aggressively address climate change and prevent such tragedies (and the enormous array of other adverse impacts), is morally bankrupt.
The number and intensity of hurricanes during a particular hurricane season vary widely. However, intensification of even a naturally increasing or varying number of hurricanes means more destruction. An individual hurricane like Katrina is not "caused" by global warming. Several colleagues have pointed out that one should be careful about linking hurricanes to climate change. Because of the large natural variation in number and intensity of hurricanes during a given year and the natural cyclical nature of the variation, it is hard for scientists to prove (or disprove) a trend -- and it is, of course, impossible to say a particular hurricane was "caused" by global warming. Another colleague has underscored this point by pointing to a paper released by Pielke Jr. as Katrina approached the Gulf Coast. Hurricanes and Global Warming. See also Pielke Jr. blog Prometheus [FYI: Pielke Jr is a political science/science policy person and Pielke Sr. is the meteorologist. Both have been key players in questioning the accuracy of climate change modeling and stressing that the climate changes induced by humans are not limited to greenhouse gas emissions, but include landscape changes and aerosol emissions -- fair enough, but beside the point for purposes of this discussion].
But as another colleague points out that natural cycles and global warming are not mutually exclusive explanations of an increase in number or intensity of hurricanes. Even if climate change is a small factor in increasing numbers of intense tropical storms and even if hurricanes are a "minor" part of the adverse impacts from climate change -- that does not make any intensification of the increasing number of hurricanes unimportant.
The impacts we have witnessed from an "indirect hit" on New Orleans from a major hurricane hopefully put human faces on the word "intensification."
Secret of the Bees
An article by Fontaine, et al., published earlier this year in PLOS Biology provided the first experimental evidence that the persistence of a plant community can be affected by a loss of diversity of its pollinating fauna.Pollinator/Plant Diversity The full text is found below.
Functional Diversity of Plant–Pollinator Interaction Webs Enhances the Persistence of Plant Communities
1 UMR 7618: Biogéochimie et Ecologie des Milieux Continentaux (BIOEMCO), Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France, 2 UMR 7625: Fonctionnement et Évolution des Systèmes Écologiques, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France, 3 Department of Biology, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada
Pollination is exclusively or mainly animal mediated for 70% to 90% of angiosperm species. Thus, pollinators provide an essential ecosystem service to humankind. However, the impact of human-induced biodiversity loss on the functioning of plant–pollinator interactions has not been tested experimentally. To understand how plant communities respond to diversity changes in their pollinating fauna, we manipulated the functional diversity of both plants and pollinators under natural conditions. Increasing the functional diversity of both plants and pollinators led to the recruitment of more diverse plant communities. After two years the plant communities pollinated by the most functionally diverse pollinator assemblage contained about 50% more plant species than did plant communities pollinated by less-diverse pollinator assemblages. Moreover, the positive effect of functional diversity was explained by a complementarity between functional groups of pollinators and plants. Thus, the functional diversity of pollination networks may be critical to ecosystem sustainability.
Received: May 23, 2005; Accepted: October 11, 2005; Published: December 13, 2005
Copyright: © 2006 Fontaine et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Abbreviations: A, syrphid group; ANOVA, analysis of variance; B, bumble bee group; C, combined (syrphid and bumble bee) group; df, degrees of freedom; group 1, open flower; group 2, tubular flower; group 3, combined (open and tubular) flower; SE, standard error
*To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Citation: Fontaine C, Dajoz I, Meriguet J, Loreau M (2006) Functional Diversity of Plant–Pollinator Interaction Webs Enhances the Persistence of Plant Communities. PLoS Biol 4(1): e1
Understanding the consequences of biodiversity loss for ecosystem functioning and services is currently a major aim of ecology [1,2]. Animal-mediated pollination is one of the essential ecosystem services provided to humankind [3,4]. The negative impact of pollinator decline on the reproductive success of flowering plants has been documented at the species level [5–7], but little information is available at the community level . Increasing the scale of study to the community level is essential to account for potential competitive or facilitative effects among species that belong to the plant–pollinator network. Such effects, which are often linked to diversity [9,10], are known to have large influences on ecological processes such as community productivity and stability [11,12].
Experimental evidence for diversity effects on the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems is mainly available for plants. As primary producers, plants play a central role in the flow of energy within ecosystems [13,14]. Animal-pollinated angiosperms represent up to 70% of plant species in numerous communities and ecosystems . Mutualistic interactions between animals and plants form several intricate interaction webs . Recent analysis of plant–pollinator and plant–frugivore interaction webs demonstrates that these contain a continuum from fully specialist to fully generalist species [17,18]. However, these networks are structured in a nested way [19,20], with specialists mainly interacting with generalists. Such a pattern might have important consequences for ecosystem functioning, because it might confer resilience to perturbations such as the extinction of species  if, for example, generalist pollinators buffer the loss of specialist pollinators [18,22–24]. Furthermore, this hypothesis does not take into account the dynamical properties of these networks. In a plant–pollinator community, variations in species diversity at different trophic levels may lead to an adaptation of interaction strengths , which may in turn affect the total effectiveness of pollination. We conclude that more information is urgently needed concerning the impacts of biodiversity loss on multispecies and multitrophic interactions.
To experimentally test the effect of functional diversity on the functioning and persistence of plant–pollinator communities, we defined functional groups of plants and pollinators based on morphological traits. For plants, two functional groups with three species each were defined according to accessibility of floral rewards (pollen and nectar; see Figure 1). The first group (group 1) included Matricaria officinalis, Erodium cicutarium, and Raphanus raphanistrum, which have easily accessible floral rewards and will be called “open flowers.” The second group (group 2), called “tubular flowers,” included Mimulus guttatus, Medicago sativa, and Lotus corniculatus, all of which present floral rewards hidden at the bottom of a tubular corolla. For pollinators, two functional groups were defined according to mouthparts length (Figure 1). The first group (group A) included three species of syrphid flies (Diptera) with short mouthparts: Saephoria sp., Episyrphus balteatus, and Eristalis tenax. The second group (group B) included three species of bumble bees with longer mouthparts: Bombus terrestris, B, pascuorum, and B, lapidarius. Note that in this case a functional trait (long mouthparts) and a phylogenetic group are confounded. Preliminary observations showed that these six insect species contribute up to 70% of all pollinating visits to flowers in our study area in France. Constructing a plant–pollinator network with these four functional groups leads to a nested structure with specialists interacting with generalists (Figure 1, third column). In principle, syrphid flies cannot efficiently pollinate tubular flowers because their mouthparts are too short.
Figure 1. Experimental Pollination Web
Summary of the characteristics upon which functional groups of pollinators (left) and plants (right) were based. In the middle, the arrows linking insect heads to flower types show the theoretical pollination network when all functional groups are present.
At the beginning of spring 2003, we set up 36 4-m2 caged experimental plant communities. There were three plant treatments following a “substitutive” design . Two of them contained one of the two plant functional groups alone (group 1 or 2), whereas the third contained both plant functional groups in combination (group 3). We applied three different pollination treatments to each plant treatment, by introducing each pollinator functional group alone (group A or B), or both groups together (group C). This full factorial design led to nine experimental treatments, which were replicated four times each, making a total of 36 experimental units. The pollination treatments were applied in two consecutive years (June–July 2003 and 2004). We controlled for the total number of pollinator visits received by each plot during the two pollination seasons (1,000 visits in 2003 and 1,200 visits in 2004) to allow an unbiased comparison of pollination efficiency among the various experimental treatments.
In August and September 2003, we counted the number of fruits on each plant in every plot. We also counted the number of seeds per fruit on five collected fruits per plant. Lastly, in April 2004 and 2005, we measured both the number of plant species present at the seedling stage (recruitment richness) and the total number of seedlings (recruitment density) to determine the effects of the experimental treatments on the natural recruitment of the next plant generation.
Effects on Plant Reproductive Success
The reproductive success of the two plant functional groups after the first season is analysed in Table 1. There was a significant effect of pollination treatment on the number of fruits per plant (Table 1, left; standardized means ± standard error [SE]: syrphid −0.278 ± 0.061, bumble bee 0.221 ± 0.065, and both 0.063 ± 0.068). Orthogonal contrasts on pollination treatment indicate that the identity of the pollinator guild (syrphid [A] versus bumble bee [B]) had a significant effect. There was a higher fruit production in bumble bee–pollinated communities than in those pollinated by syrphids. Moreover, the breakdown of the interaction of pollination and plant treatments into the orthogonal contrasts A1 versus B1 and A2 versus B2 indicates that the two plant functional groups responded differently to the identity of the pollinator functional group. Tubular 3 flowers (group 2) produced significantly fewer fruits in the syrphid treatment, whereas open flowers (group 1) produced the same amount of fruits whatever the identity of the pollinator functional group (Figure 2A). This supports our hypothesis that bumble bees were able to pollinate both plant functional groups whereas syrphids could only efficiently pollinate open flowers. Although the functional diversity of plant or pollinator treatment alone had no significant effect, fruit production tended to increase with both plant and pollinator functional diversity (contrast [A1 + A2 + B1 + B2] versus C3; Figure 2B).
Figure 2. Effects of Pollinator Identity and Diversity on Plant Reproductive Success
The left panels show the effects of pollinator guild identity (S indicates syrphid flies, B indicates bumble bees) on the reproductive success of the two plant guilds (open circle indicates open-flowers [group 1], closed circle indicates tubular-flowers [group 2]). Reproductive success was measured by (A) the standardized number of fruits per plant and (B) the standardized number of seeds per fruit. The right panels show the effects of the functional diversity of pollination treatments (triangle), plant treatment (inverted triangle) and both (diamond) on the standardized numbers of fruits per plant (C) and seeds per fruit (D). Lines connecting symbols indicate significant effects (solid indicates p < 0.001, dashed indicates p < 0.08). Error bars represent one standard error. See Table 1 for statistical analysis.
Table 1. Analysis of Plant Reproductive Success
With respect to seed set per fruit, the interaction between plant and pollination treatment was marginally significant (Table 1, right). As with fruit production, the contrasts A1 versus B1 and A2 versus B2 indicate that the two plant functional groups responded differently to pollinator functional group identity. The pattern, however, was different: Open flowers produced significantly fewer seeds per fruit in the bumble bee treatment than in the syrphid treatment (Figure 2C). This means that bumblebees were less-efficient pollinators than syrphids for open flowers. This could be due to the higher rate of geitonogamous visits (i.e., consecutive visits to different flowers of the same plant, resulting in self-fertilization) by bumblebees. Indeed, preliminary observations using a similar experimental design showed that bumble bees perform a higher percentage of geitonogamous visits than do syrphids (I. Dajoz, unpublished data). Finally, the mean number of seeds per fruit in the plant communities tended to increase with functional diversity of pollination treatments (contrast [A + B] versus C; Figure 2D).
Effects on Natural Recruitment
We analysed the long-term effects of our pollination treatments on the natural recruitment of our experimental plant treatments after the first and second pollination seasons. The results are presented in Table 2. There was a significant effect of year on recruitment richness with a higher richness after the second pollination season (mean ± SE: 1.916 ± 0.075 in 2004, and 2.291 ± 0.0856 in 2005). Among the possible causes was a severe drought in 2003 , which likely affected both plant and insect populations. Such a drought did not occur in 2004. This difference in climate between years may account for a large part of the year effect.
Table 2. Analysis of Plant Recruitment Richness and Density
Recruitment richness was significantly different among plant treatments, with fewer species recruiting in tubular communities (Figure 3). This is very likely due to two perennial species (whereas all species are annuals in the other group) which may have different reproductive traits and create differences in competitive intensity among the plant treatments. There was a significant effect of pollination treatment, with a higher recruitment richness when both groups of pollinators were present (means ± SE: syrphid 1.854 ± 0.973, bumble bee 2.052 ± 0.826, and both 2.406 ± 1.062). However, as suggested by the significant interaction between plant and pollination treatments, the pattern was more complex (Figure 3A). In fact, pollination treatments had no effect on recruitment richness in open-flower plant treatment (Figure 3A, left). In the tubular-flower plant treatment, recruitment in the syrphid fly treatment tended to be lower than in the other pollination treatments (Figure 3A, centre). But the positive effect of pollinator functional diversity was obvious in the plant treatment that contained both plant functional groups (Figure 3A, right). In the mixed plant treatment, recruitment richness under the most functionally diverse pollination treatment was substantially above that in the two other treatments.
Figure 3. Effects of Pollination Treatments on Plant Recruitment
Effects of pollination by syrphid flies (S), bumble bees (B), or both (S + B) on (A) recruitment richness (mean number of plant species present as seedlings in a quadrat) and (B) recruitment density (mean number of plant individuals present as seedlings in a quadrat) in the various plant treatments. Error bars represent one standard error. Lower-case letters indicate statistically significant differences among pollination treatments within a plant treatment (Bonferroni-adjusted t-test, p < 0.05).
Considering recruitment density, there was also a significant effect of year, with a higher density after the second pollination season (mean ± SE: 26.784 ± 2.324 in 2004 and 31.319 ± 1.937 in 2005), and a significant effect of plant treatment, with fewer individuals recruiting in tubular communities (Figure 3B, centre). These year and plant-treatment effects can be explained in the same way as for recruitment richness (see above). There was also a significant effect of pollination treatment, with a lower recruitment density when plant communities were pollinated by syrphid flies alone (means ± SE: syrphids: 24.104 ± 20.464, bumble bees: 34.364 ± 32.781, and both 28.688 ± 21.459). This is congruent with our results on the number of fruits produced per plant (see Table 1, contrast A versus B). As for recruitment richness, there was a significant interaction between plant and pollination treatments (Figure 3B). In the open-flower plant treatment, recruitment density was not significantly different among pollination treatments (Figure 3B, left). But in the tubular-flower plant treatment, recruitment density was significantly higher in the bumble bee treatment than in the other pollination treatments (Figure 3B, centre). Finally, in the mixed plant treatment, the same pattern as for recruitment richness was observed: There was a higher density in the mixed pollination treatment than in single-guild pollination treatments (Figure 3B, right).
Note that these results on natural recruitment are not an artefact caused by sampling small quadrats in heterogeneous experimental plots since the same patterns were observed when data from all quadrats in a plot were pooled.
Pollination Visitation Web in the Mixed Plant Treatment
To explain the strong effect of pollinator functional diversity on the persistence of mixed plant communities, we carried out a log-linear analysis on the visitation rate of each insect species in a given pollination treatment, for the six plant species of the mixed plant treatment. Data from the year 2003 are illustrated in Figure 4, and the results of the analysis on both years are presented in Table 3. In the second year, there was a significant effect of plant functional group identity: Tubular flowers received a higher number of visits than did open flowers (mean visitation frequency ± SE: for open flowers 0.236 ± 0.097 and for tubular flowers 0.763 ± 0.097). This is very likely due to the two well-established perennial species, which produced a more attractive floral display during the second year of the experiment. For the two years of the experiment, there was a significant interaction between plant functional group and pollinator functional group. This indicates that the two pollinator functional groups were specialised on different plant functional groups (mean visitation frequency ± SE on open flowers and tubular flowers, respectively: in 2003, for bumble bees 0.128 ± 0.058 and 0.433 ± 0.075; for syrphids 0.327 ± 0.043 and 0.113 ± 0.052; in 2004, for bumble bees 0.01 ± 0.005 and 0.58 ± 0.075; for syrphids 0.23 ± 0.055 and 0.18 ± 0.087). Syrphids mainly visited open flowers whereas bumble bees preferentially visited tubular flowers (Figure 4). Even though bumble bees can pollinate open flowers quite efficiently when this is the only plant functional group present (as shown by the reproductive success, recruitment diversity, and recruitment density of the open-flower plant treatment in the bumble bee treatment, Figures 2 and 3), they focus on the tubular-flower group in the mixed plant treatment. In the mixed pollination treatment, the match between plant and pollinator functional groups leads to a more homogenous distribution of pollinator visits among plant groups than in the other pollination treatments. Ultimately, this significantly increases the reproductive success of plants, most likely through the homogenisation of pollinator visits and the minimization of inefficient pollinator visits.
Figure 4. Visitation Web in the Communities with Both Plant Types
Distribution of pollinator visits for the year 2003, among the six plant species in the plant treatment containing the two plant functional groups, (A) for the mixed pollination treatment (S + B) and (B) for the single functional group pollination treatments (S or B). The length of the side of the black squares shows the proportion of visits by a given pollinator species on each plant species. Lower-case letters represent plant species: a, Ma. officinalis; b, E. cicutarium; c, R. raphanistrum; d, Mi.guttatus; e, Me. sativa; f, L. corniculatus. Numbers represent pollinator species: 1, Saephoria sp.; 2, Ep. balteatus; 3, Er. tenax; 4, B. terrestris; 5, B. pascuorum; 6, B. lapidarius.
Table 3. Analysis of Visitation Rates
Previous studies on the diversity of plant–pollinator interaction webs were either descriptive , carried out on a single plant species [6,7,28–30], or based on simulation  and theoretical approaches [22,31]. To our knowledge, this is the first experimental evidence that the persistence of a plant community can be affected by a loss of diversity of its pollinating fauna. Of course, our experimental communities differed from natural ones in several respects. Among other things, the interaction networks we studied were much simpler than those occurring in nature; in particular, they contained fewer species in each trophic level. But such simplifications from natural situations are often necessary to carry out controlled experiments.
In plant communities that contained only open flowers, plants produced fewer seeds per fruit in the bumblebee treatment than in the syrphid treatment (Figure 2C), but this was compensated by a sufficiently high fruit production, leading to a richness and density of natural recruitment that was similar to the other pollination treatments (Figure 3A and 3B left). Thus, in these communities, all pollination treatments were equally effective in the long term.
In plant communities that contained only tubular flowers, syrphids were inefficient pollinators; fruit production was very low (Figure 2A) and insufficient to allow a good natural recruitment. Bumble bees were the most effective pollinators (Figure 3A and 3C, centre). Note that in the bumble bee treatment, the very high value of average recruitment density was due to three measurements in two replicates, in which only M. guttatus seedlings were recorded at a very high density (more than 150 seedlings per quadrat). To test the effect of these outliers, we removed them and repeated our analysis. The same significant effects were observed, except for the effect of pollination treatment, which became marginally significant (p = 0.0645). The new mean number of seedlings per quadrat for this experimental treatment was 32.17 ± 4.55 (SE), which is still slightly above the value for the pollination treatment with both pollinator groups. For plant communities that contained only tubular flowers, recruitment richness in the two pollination treatments that contained bumblebees was similar.
These results are in agreement with our theoretical pollination network presented in Figure 1. In our experimental system, syrphids can be considered as specialist pollinators since they efficiently pollinate only open flowers. Bumble bees were potentially generalists as they induced an important fruit production of the two plant types and a good recruitment in the open- and tubular-flower plant treatments. Our results on the reproductive success and recruitment of single-guild plant treatments indicate that there are strong functional group identity effects since our plant functional groups responded differently to our pollinator functional groups.
However, the functional diversity of both the plant and pollination treatments was also important. Plant reproductive success tended to increase with pollinator functional diversity when the number of seeds per fruit was considered, and with both plant and pollinator functional diversity when the number of fruits per plant was considered (Figures 2B and 2D). Although recruitment in single-guild plant treatments was mainly affected by the identity of functional groups, the effect of functional diversity was dramatic in the mixed plant treatment. Natural recruitment of plant communities visited by mixed pollinator guilds was largely above that in other pollination treatments.
Pollination by syrphids alone allowed the reproduction of open flowers but not tubular flowers, as expected from the specialisation of syrphids. More surprisingly, however, bumble bees failed to be efficient generalist pollinators. Most of their visits occurred on tubular flowers (Figure 4), resulting in a relatively poor recruitment of open flowers. The only pollination treatment that achieved a high recruitment of both open and tubular flowers when they were mixed, was the one containing the two insect functional groups (Figure 3, right). When syrphids and bumble bees simultaneously pollinated mixed plant communities, they each focused on their target plant functional group, leading to more efficient visits and a better distribution of visits among plant functional groups (Figure 4). Ultimately, it was the pollination treatment with both pollinator functional groups that produced the highest richness and density of natural recruitment. Consequently, since most natural plant communities contain both open and tubular flowers, pollinator functional diversity should strongly enhance the persistence of these communities.
Although our experimental system differed from natural communities, and information about the reciprocal effects of the functional diversity of plant communities on the diversity of pollinator communities would be useful, our study indicates that the functional diversity of plant–pollinator interaction webs may be critical for the persistence and functioning of ecosystems and should be carefully monitored and protected. The loss of pollinator functional diversity is likely to trigger plant population decline or extinctions , which in turn are likely to affect the structure and composition of natural plant communities and the productivity of many agroecosytems that rely on insect pollination . Ultimately, higher trophic levels may be affected since the diversity and biomass of consumers depend on primary production. Our results strongly suggest that the functional diversity of complex interaction webs plays a crucial role in the sustainability of ecosystems.
Materials and Methods
Experimental plant communities
At the beginning of spring 2003, plant communities were set up in a meadow that remained almost undisturbed for 10 years at the Station Biologique de Foljuif, France, 80 km southwest of Paris. Prior to the establishment of the communities, soil was sterilized by injecting 120 °C steam (30 min) to destroy the seed bank and soil pathogens. In each of the 36 4-m2 plots, a total of 30 adult plants were planted on a grid, spaced 25 cm from each other, to minimize competition and homogenise spatial distribution. Thus, plant density was the same in all experimental plots. We selected a moderate density to maintain within- and among-species competition to a low level, and to allow enough space for future recruitment in the plots. Each of these plant communities was enclosed in a 2-m–high nylon mesh cage in order to eliminate natural pollinator visitation.
During the flowering seasons (June–July 2003 and 2004), pollinators were captured around the study area and introduced into the cages. The relative abundance of pollinator species in the various pollination treatments reflects their natural abundances. From preliminary observations, we had noticed that, in order to have no more than three insects active at the same moment in a 4-m2 plot, it was necessary to put about eight syrphid flies, or six bumble bees, or a mixture of six syrphids and four bumble bees in each pollination cage. Each pollination round in a given plot included 200 visits in the year 2003 and 300 in the year 2004. In total, each plot received either four (in 2004) or five (in 2003) pollination rounds, leading to a total of 1,000 visits per plot in 2003 and 1,200 in 2004.
Bumble bees needed approximately 30 min after introduction in the cages to calm down and start to pollinate. In the pollination treatment with both pollinator guilds, we then introduced syrphids, which started to pollinate immediately. Mean visitation time was not significantly different between insects in the cages and in nature. This was true both for bumble bees (mean visitation time in cages: 3.25 ± 0.92 s, mean visitation time in nature: 2.91 ± 1.33 s, t = 1.51, df = 96, p = 0.133) and for syrphids (mean visitation time in cages: 40.21 ± 8.89 s, mean visitation time in nature: 35.38 ± 14.75 s, t = 0.77, df = 12, p = 0.45).
Measurement of reproductive success
One month after the first pollination treatments, we counted the total number of fruits on each plant, except for M. guttatus and M. officinalis in which fruits cannot be counted without collecting them. We randomly took five fruits per plant of each species to estimate the number of seeds per fruit.
Measurement of recruitment richness and density
Recruitment richness and density were estimated during the second (April 2004) and third (April 2005) year of the experiment by counting the number of seedlings of each species in four 1,600-cm2 quadrats in each plot.
Statistical analyses were performed using SAS 8.2 software.
For the analysis of plant reproductive success, we log-transformed the data to ensure normality. We standardized the data by species using the formula: x − μ/σ (where μ = the mean and σ = the standard deviation of number of fruits or number of seeds per fruit for a given plant species) in order to make the data comparable among the various species and functional groups. We used a mixed analysis of variance (ANOVA) model (SAS proc mixed), in which the fixed effects were plant treatment, pollination treatment, and their interaction term. To investigate the effects of the various plant and pollination treatments, we subdivided a priori each main effect into two components using orthogonal contrasts. The first contrast tested the effect of the identity of the plant or pollinator functional group, i.e. one group versus the other. The second tested the effect of the functional diversity of the plant or pollination treatment, i.e. single-guild versus mixed-guild plant or pollination treatments. Similarly, we subdivided the interaction into three orthogonal contrasts testing the effects of pollinator functional group identity on each plant guild, and the effect of the functional diversity of both plant and pollination treatments. See Table 1 for the construction of the contrasts.
For the analysis of plant recruitment, we used a repeated measure ANOVA model (SAS proc mixed). The fixed effects were pollination treatment, plant treatment, year, and all the interaction terms. The repeated effect was year, and the subject effect was replicate. For recruitment density, data were log transformed.
For each year of the experiment, the visitation rate of pollinators on each plant species in the communities with both plant functional groups was analysed using a mixed log-linear model (glimix macro, SAS). We subdivided the pollination treatment into two effects: pollinator functional diversity (one or two pollinator functional groups) and identity of the pollinator functional group (bumble bees or syrphids). The model included pollinator species nested within identity of pollinator functional groups, plant species nested within identity of plant functional group, identity of pollinator functional groups, identity of plant functional groups, pollinator functional diversity, and all interaction terms. The replicate was a random effect.
We thank Carine Collin, Romain Gallet, Jean-Francois le Galliard, Jacques Gignoux, Andy Gonzalez, Gérard Lacroix, Gaelle Lahoreau, Louis Lambrecht, Manuel Massot, Naoise Nunan, Virginie Tavernier, and Elisa Thebault for useful discussions; and Marco Banchi, Yves Bas, Mathilde Baude, Alix Boulouis, Marion Decoust, Patricia Genet, Alexandra Kabadajic, Mohsen Kayal, Fanny Marlin, and Emilie Patural for great help in the field and in the lab. We also thank Andy Gonzalez, Andy Hector, Marcel van der Heijden, Claire Kremen, Jane Memmott, Nick Waser, and three anonymous reviewers for constructive and useful comments on the manuscript. We acknowledge the financial support of the Quantitative Ecology Coordinated Incentive Action (ACI Ecologie Quantitative) of the Ministry of Research (France).
Competing interests. The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
Author contributions. CF and ID designed the experiment. CF, ID, and JM performed the experiment. CF analysed the data. CF, ID, and ML conceived the work and wrote the paper.
How Nature Creates a Pandemic Influenza
The Public Library of Science, PLOS, is a series of open access scientific journals. PLOS Biology has an introductory article on how viruses mutate and reassort PLOS Biology Article on Influenza Viruses Those of you discussing this issue might want to take a look.
March 9, 2006
Mangroves Crucial to Global Carbon Cycle
Although the days when mangrove swamps were cleared without thought are past, recent research highlights a new reason why mangroves are important:
The global carbon cycle is currently the topic of great interest because of its importance in the global climate system and also because human activities are altering the carbon cycle to a significant degree. This crucial biogeochemical cycle involves the exchange of carbon between the Earth's atmosphere, the oceans, the vegetation, and the soils of the Earth's terrestrial ecosystems.
Since the oceans stand for the largest pool of carbon near the surface of the Earth, their role is of particular importance in the global carbon cycle. Indeed, the organic matter dissolved in the oceans contains a similar amount of carbon as is stored in the skies as atmospheric carbon dioxide. Consequently, in order to understand global carbon cycle, and its effects on climate, it is crucial to quantify the sources of marine dissolved organic carbon (DOC).
German researchers have investigated the impact of mangroves, the dominant intertidal vegetation of the tropics and a source of terrestrial DOC, on marine DOC inventories. The study was performed on the scale of an entire mangrove-shelf system that integrates information of about 10,000 km² of north Brazilian mangroves. A combined approach of stable carbon isotopes and nuclear magnetic resonance was used to quantify mangrove-derived DOC on the North Brazilian shelf....Mangroves are the main source of terrestrial DOC in the open ocean off northern Brazil. Even at the outermost stations, where intrusion of Amazon River water could not be excluded, the mangrove-derived DOC concentrations were almost two-fold more important than the estimated riverine DOC concentration....DOC export from mangroves is more than 2 trillion moles of carbon per year which is similar to the annual Amazon River discharge and nearly triples the amount estimated from previous smaller scale estimates of the carbon released to the oceans. According to these estimates, mangroves probably account for more than 10% of the DOC globally transported from the continents to the ocean while covering less than 0.1% of the continents.
Since mangroves play a major role for the dissolved organic matter (DOM) exchange between continents and oceans, their rapid decline over the recent decades may already have reduced the flux of terrestrial DOM to the ocean, impacting one of the largest organic carbon pools on Earth. Mangrove foliage, however, has declined by nearly half over the past several decades because of increasing coastal development and damage to its habitat. As the habitat has changed, ever-smaller quantities of mangrove-derived detritus are available for formation and export of dissolved organic matter to the ocean. The researchers speculate that the rapid decline in mangrove extent threatens the delicate balance and may eventually shut off the important link between the land and ocean, with potential consequences for atmospheric composition and climate.
Dittmar, T, et al., (2006) « Mangroves, a major source of dissolved organic carbon to the oceans », Global Biogeochem. Cycles, 20(1).
Contact: email@example.com Reported by EU Science for Environment Policy service
March 9, 2006 in Biodiversity, Climate Change, Energy, EU, Governance/Management, International, Physical Science, South America, Sustainability, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack
Climate Change to Affect European Production of Bioenergy Crops
The EU Science for Environment service reported on bioenergy crop research:
Changes in European agricultural productivity and subsidy policies are expected to reduce land devoted to food production and make land available for bioenergy crop production. Because European policy depends on increasing use of renewable energy, including bioenergy, research has been done to assess the impact of climate change on bioenergy crops. Recent research indicates that southern Europe's ability to produce bioenergy crops will be severely reduced in the future unless Europe undertakes measures to adapt to climate change, such as breeding for temperature and drought tolerance and alternative agricultural practices such as early sowing.
Tuck Gill et al. (2006) « The potential distribution of bioenergy crops in Europe under present and future climate », Biomass and Bioenergy 30: 183–197.
European scientists explored the potential distribution of a range of bioenergy crops under current conditions and under future climate -- with the goal of determining which bioenergy crops can be used to meet the demand for bioenergy now and in the future. Researchers derived maps of the potential distribution of 26 promising bioenergy crops in Europe based on suitable climatic conditions and elevation. Crops suitable for temperate and Mediterranean climates were selected from four groups: oilseeds (e.g. oilseed rape, sunflower), starch crops (e.g. potatoes), cereals (e.g. barley), and solid biofuel crops (e.g. sorghum, miscanthus). The impact of climate change under different scenarios and general circulation models on the potential future distribution of these crops was determined, based on predicted future climatic conditions. Climate scenarios were based on four IPCC SRES² emission scenarios, implemented by four main global climate models. Overall, the results have shown that the potential distribution of temperate oilseeds, cereals, starch crops, and solid biofuels is predicted to increase in northern Europe by the 2080s, due to increasing temperatures, and decrease in southern Europe (e.g. Spain, Portugal, southern France, Italy, and Greece) due to increased drought. Mediterranean oil and solid biofuel crops, currently restricted to southern Europe, are predicted to extend further north due to higher summer temperatures. These effects become more pronounced with time and are the greatest under the highest emission scenario and for models predicting the greatest climate forcing. All models predict that bioenergy crop production in Spain is especially vulnerable to climate change, with many temperate crops predicted to decline dramatically by the 2080s.
New Guinea Warming at High Rate
According to New Scientist magazine, Michael Prentice of Plymouth State University has uncovered previously unpublished meteorological data indicating that New Guinea is warming five times faster than the previous estimates of warming in the region. This finding is significant because the island is a paradise of undiscovered species in part because the highlands are among the most isolated places on Earth, rarely visited by local tribes and virtually invisible to satellites because of cloud cover. The warming appears to be especially severe at the highest altitudes, about 20 times faster than estimated previously. The Mount Java glaciers have retreated 300 metres since the 1970s, an order of magnitude faster than before. Issue 2542 of New Scientist magazine, 11 March 2006, page 17 Article preview Full article (subscription)
Nanotechnology - nanotoxicity
DuPont scientists published a study recently indicating that inhalation of nanoparticles were not more toxic than larger fine sized particles. DuPont nanoparticle study Other pulmonary toxicology studies demonstrate that nanoparticles administered to the lung are more toxic than larger, fine-sized particles of similar chemistry at identical mass concentrations. As the scientists indicated,
The results described herein provide the first example of nanoscale particle-types which are not more cytotoxic or inflammogenic to the lung compared to larger-sized particles of similar composition. Furthermore, these findings run counter to the postulation that surface area is a major factor associated with the pulmonary toxicity of nanoscale particle-types.
EU Commission Publishes Green Paper on Unified EU Energy Strategy
Yesterday, the European Commission published a Green Paper on developing a European Energy Policy. EU Energy Green Paper The green paper will be reviewed by EU energy ministers on March 14 and by EU heads of state on March 23-24. EU green papers are discussion papers, though, not concrete legislative proposals. Nonetheless, since the EU has 50% more energy consumers than the US, everyone is watching as Europe attempts to develop an energy strategy.
Energy is a realm traditionally reserved to the national policy of EU member states. Two previous green papers were largely ignored. However, because the EU member states unanimously requested preparation of this third green paper, many hope that a unified European energy strategy is in the making. Furthermore, a recent Eurobarometer poll indicated that a sizable majority of Europeans consider energy policy to be best handled at the EU level. The green paper responds to this by proposing a new EU energy regulatory body, measures to complete the EU single energy market, energy efficiency measures, and research on renewable energy sources.
The green paper establishes sustainability, competitiveness, and supply security as the primary goals for European energy policy. However, the emphasis of strategies in the paper is on the latter two as opposed to the environment.
The first priority is completion of the EU single market, currently liberalized to allow business to choose suppliers throughout the EU. However, lack of interconnections and supply lines prevent completion of the market. The green paper suggests an energy "grid" code, a priority European interconnection plan, i.e. constructing natural gas pipelines, a European energy regulatory agency, and mandatory unbundling of networks.
The second priority is security of supply in the internal energy market and a commitment to "solidarity among member states." The green paper proposes a European Energy Supply Observatory and revision of the existing EU oil and gas legislation to deal with potential supply disruptions.
The third priority is external EU energy policy, including long-term agreements with Russia, which currently supplies most of EU's natural gas.
While the EU has had remarkable decreases in energy intensity and increases in GDP, EU energy demand and energy imports continue to grow. Energy Demand, Intensity and GNP in EU25 Although EU energy efficiency is extremely high, the green paper on energy efficiency proposed improving it by 20%.
But overall the EU will need to move towards renewable energy sources. According to the Eurobarometer polls, EU citizens favor solar and wind, with nuclear a very distant third. Ironically, the green paper provided supporters of nuclear power with solace when it noted that national energy supply decisions (alluding to bans on nuclear power in Germany, Austria, Italy, Ireland, and Spain) can interfere with EU supply security and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Many EU citizens are willing to pay a small premium for renewable energy sources, up to 5%. But that limited willingness to pay underscores the need for research and development that will provide renewable energy sources at prices that Europeans are willing to pay.
Pacific Marine Fisheries Council Votes to Protect Krill
The Pacific Fishery Management Council unanimously approved a ban on netting krill in West Coast waters. While California, Oregon, and Washington already ban krill netting, the federal ban would expand the area covered by the ban from 3 miles offshore to the entire 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone. Krill numbers have fallen dramatically, which affects sea birds, marine mammals, salmon and squid that feed on krill.
March 6, 2006
Bighorns Benefitted from New Blood
Science reports on a study by Hogg et al., the "first detailed evidence" that endangered species still present in the wild (unlike the Kihansi toads) may benefit from introducing outsiders to rescue isolated populations. As I recall, some time ago, scientists reported the same strategy was showing success with Florida panthers that had Texas panthers introduced to provide genetic variation.
For a population of animals spiraling towards extinction, things get bad before they get worse. Small numbers means fewer mate choices, more inbreeding, and less-healthy offspring. Scientists have "genetically rescued" such populations in captivity by introducing outsiders to freshen up the gene pool. Now, researchers report the first detailed evidence of a successful application of this strategy in the wild. The beneficiaries: a historically isolated flock of bighorn sheep in Montana.
The western United States was once swathed in herds of bighorns. But by 1922, domestic sheep diseases, hunting, and habitat loss had eliminated all sheep from places such as the National Bison Range (NBR) in northwestern Montana. In that year, wildlife managers hoping to nurse the NBR's bighorn population back to health transplanted 12 sheep from Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. The herd waxed and waned in isolation until 1985, when scientists introduced new blood in the form of 5 rams from other herds in Montana and Wyoming. Over the next decade, 10 more sheep were introduced.
Conservation biologist John Hogg of the Montana Conservation Science Institute in Missoula and colleagues set out to evaluate the strategy's success... Their findings were dramatic: The most outbred rams--descendants of introduced sheep--fathered 2.6 times as many healthy lambs as did the most inbred rams, and the most outbred ewes gave birth to 2.2 times as many healthy lambs as their inbred counterparts did. Outbred females also produced lambs nearly a kilogram heavier than did inbred moms. "I was surprised at the magnitude of the effect," Hogg says.
The findings may influence the way wildlife managers look after small populations, says Hogg, whose team reported its findings online 28 February in Proceedings of the Royal Society: B. Managers often like to keep animals away from other populations to minimize the spread of disease, he says, but the study shows "it makes sense to manage with both disease and genetics in mind."
The Levels of Pesticides in US Waters Won't Kill People But May Kill Fish
U.S. Geological Survey released a report last week describing the occurrence of pesticides in streams and ground water during 1992-2001. Pesticides were found frequently in streams but infrequently in ground water. Pesticides in streams are seldom at concentrations likely to affect humans. However, in streams draining urban and agricultural areas, pesticides were found at concentrations that may affect aquatic life or fish-eating wildlife.
Concentrations of individual pesticides were almost always lower than human health standards and guidelines. However, pesticides may have substantially greater effects on aquatic ecosystems. More than 80 % of urban streams and more than 50 % of rural agricultural streams had concentrations in water of at least one pesticide—mostly those in use during the study period—that exceeded a water-quality benchmark for aquatic life. Water-quality benchmarks are estimates of concentrations above which pesticides may have adverse effects on human health, aquatic life, or fish-eating wildlife.
Insecticides, particularly diazinon, chlorpyrifos, and malathion frequently exceeded aquatic-life benchmarks in urban streams. Most urban uses of diazinon and chlorpyrifos, such as on lawns and gardens, have been phased out since 2001 because of use restrictions imposed by the EPA. Concentrations of these pesticides may have been declining in some urban streams even before 2001—benchmark exceedences declined late in the study. A case study of diazinon shows declining concentrations in several urban streams in the Northeast during 1998-2004.
In agricultural streams, the pesticides chlorpyrifos,
azinphos-methyl, p,p’-DDE, and alachlor were among those most often
found at concentrations that may affect aquatic life, with each being
most important in areas where its use on crops is or was greatest.
DDT, dieldrin, and chlordane—organochlorine pesticide compounds no longer in use when the study began—were frequently detected in bed sediment and fish in urban and agricultural areas. Concentrations of these compounds in fish declined following reductions in their use during the 1960s and elimination of all uses in the 1970s and 1980s, and continue to slowly decline. But, these persistent organochlorine pesticides still occur at levels greater than benchmarks for aquatic life and fish-eating wildlife in many urban and agricultural streams across the Nation.<>
USGS also reported pesticides seldom occurred alone—but almost always as complex mixtures. Most stream samples and about half of the well samples contained two or more pesticides, and frequently more. Scientists know little about the effects of pesticide mixtures, since most toxicity information and water-quality benchmarks used in this study, has been developed for individual chemicals. USGS indicated "The common occurrence of pesticide mixtures, particularly in streams, means that the total combined toxicity of pesticides in water, sediment, and fish may be greater than that of any single pesticide compound that is present. Studies of the effects of mixtures are still in the early stages, and it may take years for researchers to attain major advances in understanding the actual potential for effects. Our results indicate, however, that studies of mixtures should be a high priority.">
Pesticides in the Nation's Streams and Ground Water 1992-2001
In-depth information about the pesticide assessment may be found at: http://water.usgs.gov/nawqa/ under "What’s New."
In two American zoos, 300 Kihansi spray toads, mustard-colored, fingernail-size amphibians from Tanzania, are the last remnants of a species a dam destroyed.
Link: CONSERVATION BIOLOGY: The Lost World of the Kihansi Toad
An excerpt of the Science report:
The Kihansi spray toad is 12,800 kilometers from home: Kihansi Gorge, in Tanzania's remote Udzungwa Mountains. For millions of years a great waterfall filled this gorge with perpetual spray and wind, creating a singular environment where the toad and other endemic creatures lived. In 2000, a hydropower dam cut off 90% of the water, and the ecosystem withered. Since then, scores of scientists in many disciplines have performed elaborate, unprecedented deeds to salvage the toad and its lost world. They have managed to raise the toads in captivity, documented the ecosystem's myriad responses to the dam, and engineered in the gorge what may be the world's largest sprinkler system. Their story shows that although human technology can easily upset nature, even the best science may not suffice to restore it.
The cool, high peaks of the Udzungwas jut from a sea of dry savanna, forming part of the Eastern Arc Biodiversity Hotspot, a crescent-shaped archipelago of nine mountain ranges. Here are some of the world's oldest rainforests, where long isolation and stable climate have given biota tens of millions of years to evolve. Thousands of plants and animals are endemic to the nine ranges, to one range, or, as in Kihansi, one locale. The spray toad has what may be the smallest range of any vertebrate--2 hectares. Some biologists think it has lived in the gorge or nearby for at least 10 million years.
The gorge begins where the Kihansi River plunges 100 meters off an escarpment, then rushes another vertical 750 meters through 4 kilometers of violent twists and cascades. The river flows year-round, whereas the region's other streams disappear in dry season. The slippery cliffs and the water's ferocity long excluded people, allowing the mist-world creatures to live undisturbed and undiscovered.
Steep drop and dependable flow also are ideal for hydropower. In 1983, engineers envisioned diverting water via a dam above the gorge to a turbine-filled tunnel; flow would bypass the gorge and return to the riverbed at the bottom. A survey of the modest 20-hectare proposed reservoir suggested an environmentally benign project, and in 1994, construction began on the $270 million effort, initially funded by World Bank loans. Development banks in Norway, Sweden, and Germany later joined but insisted that downstream biota be surveyed too.
Thus in 1996, with the dam infrastructure already partly built, biologists including herpetologist Kim Howell of the University of Dar es Salaam managed to climb down into several steep, mist-engulfed meadows. Here they found an estimated 50,000 of the skinny, endearing toads, hiding in deep moss mats. Although they have relatives in the region, several unusual features set the toads apart, including flaps over nostrils (possibly to keep out excess spray) and live births (eggs might wash away). Their chit-chit-chit-chit call can ramp up to high frequencies inaudible to humans, possibly to overcome constant low-end waterfall roar, says evolutionary biologist Corinne Richards of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The toads ate hundreds of wetland insect species, most still unidentified. Biologists also found at least four new endemic plants in the gorge, including a new coffee species, plus rare trees and threatened primates and birds.
But even as they explored the gorge world, biologists had scant hope for preserving it. "As soon as we found this place, we knew it would be going extinct," says one foreign consultant--who, like several others, feared being quoted by name because of the fierce politics surrounding the dam. To compensate, biologists sought possible toad transplant sites but turned up nothing. They recommended letting half the river's flow continue to the gorge, but that recommendation was not followed. In 1999, European newspapers got wind of unpublished studies, along with the published description of the toad, Nectophrynoides asperginis. Groups such as Friends of the Earth accused the banks and Tanzania of violating the International Convention on Biological Diversity, which forbids projects that would wipe out species.
The government and lenders compromised. With an added $6 million loan to cover conservation studies and mitigation, the gorge would get 10% of its previous flow. Part was to be channeled into a several-kilometer-long, gravity-fed pipe system snaking down rock walls to the toad meadows, where hundreds of spray nozzles would spurt mist--a setup meant to mimic natural spray with a fraction of the water. Covering a quarter of the toads' original habitat, the sprinklers are "probably the most highly engineered recovery system for any species ever," says William Newmark, a conservation biologist at the Utah Museum of Natural History advising the World Bank.
But the sprinklers were not ready when the water was to be choked off in early 2000. The shutoff proceeded anyway, and by the time the sprinklers came on 9 months later, the ecosystem had dried up catastrophically. Common plants from adjacent dry areas had invaded former spray meadows; mosses had declined almost 95%; insect diversity had dropped; and only 2000 toads were left alive.
Doing the downstream conservation work only after the dam was well under way was a "huge mistake: Planning was not preceded by a thorough and complete environmental impact assessment," admits conservation biologist Wilfred Sarunday, coordinator of Tanzania's Lower Kihansi Environmental Management Project, which oversees studies and mitigation at the gorge....
Upcoming ABA SEER Environmental Science Teleconference
The speakers will discuss the science and technology of surface water quality and wastewater treatment, including watershed concepts, the measurement of water quality parameters, water quality requirements imposed by the Clean Water Act (e.g. ambient water quality criteria, NPDES permits and total maximum daily loads), point and non-point sources of surface water pollution and conventional and innovative water pollution control technologies used for treating municipal and industrial wastewater.
Alexandra Dapolito Dunn , National Association of Clean Water Agencies, Washington, DC
W. Wesley Eckenfelder, P.E., D.Sc., D.E.E., Senior Technical Consultant, AquAeTer, Inc., Brentwood, TN
William Hansard , President, Environmental Management Services, Inc. Brentwood, TN
Stephen W. Hughes , P.E., TetraTech, Pittsburgh, PA
Paul Marotta, P.E., AquAeTer, Inc., Brentwood, TN
Thursday, March 23, 2006:
12:30 p.m.- 2:30 p.m. (Eastern)
11:30 a.m.- 1:30 p.m. (Central)
10:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. (Mountain)
9:30 a.m.- 11:30 a.m. (Pacific)
View the Environmental Sciences program brochure at http://www.abanet.org/environ/programs/environsci05/home.html
Come one and all to these Fall Conferences
HT: Ben Boer for reminding us of two additional important conferences
The fourth IUCN (World Conservation Union) Academy of Environmental Law Conference is on at Pace University this year:
4th Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium
OCTOBER 16-20, 2006
Implementing Environmental Legislation:
The Critical Role of Enforcement and Compliance
Pace Law School
White Plains, New York, in partnership with INECE, UNEP and others
Pace Law School
White Plains, New York
See link: http://www.law.pace.edu/environment/colloquium.html
Information about the Colloquium is available by contacting Lee Paddock at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The IUCN Academy Conference at Pace University will be followed by the Environmental Tax Conference. A bus will go from Pace University to Ottawa.
The Seventh Annual Global Conference on Environmental Taxation
Instruments of Change for a Sustainable Economy
Oct 22-24 2006
Chateau Laurier, Ottawa, Canada
Hosted by the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law in partnership with the
Sponsored by the University of Ottawa CGA Tax Research Centre and the
Government of Canada
The Corps of Engineers -- set up to take the fall?
The Washington Post reports that the Corps is rushing to rebuild the levees, but two groups of experts, one group appointed by the National Science Foundation and one group appointed by Louisiana, are critical of the work being done.
The Army Corps of Engineers seems likely to fulfill a promise by President Bush to rebuild New Orleans's toppled flood walls to their original, pre-Katrina height by June 1, but two teams of independent experts monitoring the $1.6 billion reconstruction project say large sections of the rebuilt levee system will be substantially weaker than before the hurricane hit.
These experts say the Corps, racing to rebuild 169 miles of levees destroyed or damaged by Katrina, is taking shortcuts to compress what is usually a years-long construction process into a few weeks. They say that weak, substandard materials are being used in some levee walls, citing lab tests as evidence. And they say the Corps is deferring repairs to flood walls that survived Katrina but suffered structural damage that could cause them to topple in a future storm.