” … governments need to get real about
the consequences of climate change.”

The Guardian (London)
September 26, 2007


For all this talk, still we head steadfastly for catastrophe

This week’s summit on climate change will achieve
nothing if rich countries don’t finally show some

By Kevin Watkins

If talking could cut greenhouse gas emissions,
then this would be a good week for international
action on climate change. It opened with more
than 80 speeches from governments at a special
session on the issue at the UN, and will close
with a two-day “summit” in the White House
bringing together all the world’s major emitters.
The bad news is that we are still heading
steadfastly in the direction of an avoidable
climate catastrophe.

The special session was a bold effort by the
secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, to instill
urgency into climate negotiations. His aim: to
prepare the ground for an international treaty
with real, enforceable limits on greenhouse gas
emissions. That means a more ambitious, and
inclusive, successor to the Kyoto protocol, which
expires in 2012. Negotiations begin in earnest in
December at a summit in Bali – or they might if
governments can bring themselves to stop
dithering and start acting.

It’s hard to exaggerate the importance of Bali.
There is still a window of opportunity for
avoiding the worst effects of climate change –
but that window is closing. Most governments
broadly accept the need to restrict average
temperature increases to less than 2C above
pre-industrial levels. Business-as-usual will
take us over twice that level by the end of the
century, so every year of delay will make it more
difficult to achieve the target.

Continue reading


This is from a business journal so the angle isn’t one Rising Tide North America support – we reject Carbon Trading outright as a major distraction from efforts to make the world a more sustainable, equitable place. See www.carbontradewatch.org for more information on Carbon Trading.


Is water the new carbon? by Matt Jenkins
from http://www.sustainableindustries.com/technology/8854937.html

Four years ago, the Chicago Climate Exchange was created as a way for companies to buy “carbon credits” to offset their greenhouse gas emissions. The market broke new ground by providing industries with a way to reduce their total emissions – either directly or indirectly – at the lowest possible cost. Today, carbon trading and is estimated to be a nearly $790 billion marketplace with individual, corporate and government participants. Now at least one member of the Chicago Climate Exchange sees a similar future in solving a more immediate environmental challenge: water pollution and shortages.

“When I got involved in carbon offset development, it became obvious that water was potentially a bigger market than even carbon,” says John Regan. Regan founded the Environmental Credit Corp., a carbon-credit supplier on the Chicago Climate Exchange; he is also the chairman of Biofinancial Corp., a Santa Cruz, Calif.-based family of hedge funds. “Carbon reduction is a relatively slow evolution,” Regan says. “It takes 25 to 50 years before you see the impact of what you do today. If you don’t solve the water impacts in five years, you’ll have a crisis on your hands.” Continue reading


*New **James Bay** Dams to Destroy Pristine **Quebec** **River** *

International Opposition and Outrage over Hydro-Quebec’s Destructive $5B
Power Grab

ALBANY, NY, Sept. 12 /PRNewswire/ – American environmental groups today
announced their support for Canadian environmental groups and three Cree
Indian communities fighting Hydro-Quebec’s most recent assault on the James
Bay wilderness in Quebec, Canada.

Hydro-Quebec’s primary purpose for damming and diverting the Rupert River
-one of the last undammed major river in Northern Quebec – and creating a
massive reservoir equivalent in size to flooding two-thirds of Montreal, or
half of New York or New Orleans, is to generate new power capacity to sell to
the northeastern United States. Continue reading


Calculations of forests’ potential as sustainable
biofuel assume that forests will survive expected
climate changes. But will they?


U.S. Geological Survey, Jemez Mountains Field Station, Los Alamos, NM 87544

Presented August 9, 2007 at joint meeting of
Ecological Society of America and Society for
Ecological Restoration

In coming decades, climate changes are expected
to produce large shifts in vegetation
distributions, largely due to mortality.
However, most field studies and model-based
assessments of vegetation responses to climate
have focused on changes associated with natality
and growth, which are inherently slow processes
for woody plants-even though the most rapid
changes in vegetation are caused by mortality
rather than natality. This talk reviews the
sensitivity of western montane forests to massive
dieback, including drought-induced tree mortality
and related insect outbreaks. This overview
illustrates the potential for widespread and
rapid forest dieback, and associated ecosystem
effects, due to anticipated global climate change.

Climate is a key determinant of vegetation
patterns at landscape and regional spatial
scales. Precipitation variability, including
recurrent drought conditions, has typified the
climate of the Mountain West for at least
thousands of years (Sheppard et al. 2002).

Dendrochronological studies and historical
reports show that past droughts have caused
extensive vegetation mortality across this
region, e.g., as documented in the American
Southwest for severe droughts in the 1580s, 1890s
to early 1900s, 1950s, and the current drought
since 1996 (Swetnam and Betancourt 1998, Allen
and Breshears 1998 and in press). Drought stress
is documented to lead to dieback in many woody
plant species in the West, including spruce
(Picea spp.), fir (Abies spp.), Douglas-fir
(Pseudotsuga menziesii.), pines (Pinus spp.),
junipers (Juniperus spp.), oaks (Quercus spp.),
mesquite (Prosopis spp.), manzanitas
(Arctostaphylos spp.), and paloverdes (Cercidium

Drought-induced tree mortality exhibits a variety
of nonlinear ecological dynamics. Tree mortality
occurs when drought conditions cause threshold
levels of plant water stress to be exceeded,
which can result in tree death by loss of
within-stem hydraulic conductivity (Allen and
Breshears – in press). Also, herbivorous insect
populations can rapidly build up to outbreak
levels in response to increased food availability
from drought-weakened host trees, such as the
various bark beetle species (e.g. Dendroctonus,
Ips, and Scolytus spp.) that attack forest trees
(Furniss and Carolin 1977). As bark beetle
populations build up they become increasingly
successful in killing drought-weakened trees
through mass attacks (Figure 1), with positive
feedbacks for further explosive growth in beetle
numbers which can result in nonlinear ecological
interactions and complex spatial dynamics (cf.
Logan and Powell 2001, Bjornstad et al. 2002).
Bark beetles also selectively kill larger and
low-vigor trees, truncating the size and age
distributions of host species (Swetnam and
Betancourt 1998).

The temporal and spatial patterns of
drought-induced tree mortality also reflect
non-linear dynamics. Through time mortality is
usually at lower background levels, punctuated by
large pulses of high tree death when threshold
drought conditions are exceeded (Swetnam and
Betancourt 1998, Allen and Breshears – in press).
The spatial pattern of drought-induced dieback
often reveals preferential mortality along the
drier, lower fringes of tree species
distributions in western mountain ranges. For
example, the 1950s drought caused a rapid,
drought-induced ecotone shift on the east flank
of the Jemez Mountains in northern New Mexico,
USA (Allen and Breshears 1998). A time sequence
of aerial photographs shows that the ecotone
between semiarid ponderosa pine forest and
piñon-juniper woodland shifted upslope
extensively (2 km or more) and rapidly (< 5 years) due to the death of most ponderosa pine across the lower fringes of that forest type (Figure 1). This vegetation shift has been persistent since the 1950s, as little ponderosa pine reestablishment has occurred in the ecotone shift zone. Severe droughts also markedly reduce the productivity and cover of herbaceous plants like grasses. Such reductions in ground cover can trigger nonlinear increases in erosion rates once bare soil cover exceeds critical threshold values (Davenport et al. 1998, Wilcox et al. 2003). For example, in concert with historic land use practices (livestock grazing and fire suppression), the 1950s drought apparently initiated persistent increases in soil erosion in piñon-juniper woodland sites in the eastern Jemez Mountains that require management intervention to reverse (Sydoriak et al. 2000). Thus, a short- duration climatic event apparently brought about persistent changes in multiple ecosystem properties. Over the past decade, many portions of the Western US have been subject to significant drought, with associated increases in tree mortality evident. GIS compilations of US Forest Service aerial surveys of insect-related forest dieback since 1997 show widespread mortality in many areas. For example the cumulative effect of multi-year drought since 1996 in the Southwest has resulted in the emergence of extensive bark beetle outbreaks and tree mortality across the region. In the Four Corners area piñon (Pinus edulis) has been particularly hard hit since 2002, with mortality exceeding 90% of mature individuals across broad areas (Figure 1), shifting stand compositions strongly toward juniper dominance. Across the montane forests of the West substantial dieback has been recently observed in many tree species, including Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmanni), Douglas-fir, lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta), ponderosa pine, piñon, junipers, and even aspen (Populus tremuloides). Continue reading