Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Comment Period Open on Proposed Coral Species Listings under Endangered Species Act

In October 2009, the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service to list 83 coral species as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act because of threats such as bleaching, pollution, disease, climate change, and ocean acidification. Eighty-two of the proposed 83 species were deemed qualified for listing under the ESA by the NMFS in 2010; since then, the NMFS has been reviewing science and soliciting research on these 82 species. To read more background, please see our case study, Proposed Listing of Coral Reef Species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act

NMFS is now soliciting comments on two reports related to the listings, touted as the "most complex ESA listing process [NMFS] has ever undertaken":
The public review period runs until July 31, 2012. Comments may be submitted through email to or postal mail to:

Regulatory Branch Chief
Protected Resources Division
Attn: 82 coal species
National Marine Fisheries Service
Pacific Islands Regional Office
1601 Kapiolani Blvd., Suite 1110
Honolulu, HI  96814
- or -
Assistant Regional Administrator for Protected Resources
Attn: 82 coral species
National Marine Fisheries Service
Southeast Regional Office
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL  33701

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U.S. Policy: Coastal Climate Change Planning Legislation Introduced in House

California Coast - NOAA
The Coastal State Climate Change Planning Act (H.R. 4314) was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month (previous versions were presented in the 110th and 111th Congresses). It would amend the Coastal Zone Management Act, established to assist coastal states in developing and implementing coastal zone management plans in order to "preserve, protect, develop, and where possible, to restore or enhance the resources of the nation's coastal zone," in order to "require the Secretary of Commerce to establish a coastal climate change adaptation planning and response program." This amendment was introduced by Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) and specifically calls for a program that would provide technical and financial assistance and training to states willing to develop coastal adaptation plans that abide by the guidelines set out in Section 306 of the CZMA. Plans should include:
  • identification of vulnerable coastal resources;
  • adaptive management strategies (e.g., conservation of biodiversity, protection of water quality, establishment of migration corridors, buffer zones, and climate refugia); and
  • long-term monitoring for environmental changes and assessment of adaptation measures.
The bill is currently in the House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ocean acidification gaining traction

Fringing oyster reef. © NOAA
It is great news that Ocean Acidification (OA) is getting more attention as another global stress that society needs to address. A report from the National Academy of Sciences does a detailed job of quantifying the problems of OA and establishing a plan for addressing the scientific challenges of acquiring accurate and usable information. It's probably the best overview of this topic created to date.

Those of us working on the adaptation side of the OA equation look forward to the next steps where we not only adapt the National Ocean Acidification Program to get better information about OA (a topic addressed in the key findings of the report), but we also expand the nascent work to develop societal adaptation to the effects of ocean acidification in our management and planning efforts (a topic not addressed in the report).  There are already a few examples of how people are trying to address the adverse affects of OA in natural and managed systems. For example, the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association recognized the effects of ocean acidification even before it made the papers and the peer reviewed journals.  They started to develop local ways to monitor the effects of OA, but more importantly to develop
ways to improve diminishing hatching success in the face of acidification.  If you are working to improve management or planning in response to ocean acidification, we'd love to hear about it!

For more on the report,
Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean, visit the key findings at or download the PDF at

- Lara Hansen 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pakistan Launches First Climate Change Adaptation Project

Glaciers in Northern Pakistan ©Waqas.usman

Pakistan recently launched its first climate change adaptation project titled "Reducing Risks and Vulnerabilities from Glacier Lake Outburst Floods," (GLOF) which is being piloted in two northern locations of the Himalayan Karakorum Hindukush mountain ranges – Bagrot Valley and Drongagh Valley. Climate change poses significant risks to Northern Pakistan, as increased temperatures will melt glaciers, intensifying existing issues such as landslides, avalanches, and flooding, and posing public safety and health threats to the region’s 1.3 billion people. The project’s primary objectives are to build capacity for understanding and addressing GLOF risks in the region and to enable adaptive responses to climate change impacts. The project is managed by the country’s Ministry of National Disaster Management and the United Nations Development Programme, and financed through the Adaptation Fund. For more information, please visit the project page.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Adaptation ABCs: J is for Just do it

is for Just do it.
In the immortal words of Molly Cross, the best place to start is somewhere. There’s always more information you could gather, more people you could connect with, more related initiatives with which to coordinate. While these efforts are a great place to start, at some point the benefits of gathering more information before taking action are outweighed by the costs of delaying action. And remember, you can build your adaptation actions around an adaptive management or other structured decision-making framework so that you’re taking action and gathering information at the same time, so you can keep "just doing it" even better as you go! Doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Climate Change President

Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed and his efforts to address climate change are featured in a new documentary called The Island President. Check out his recent interview in The Nation and his appearance on The Daily Show to hear his argument that democracy is the strongest climate change adaptation strategy.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Washington Climate Change Response Strategy Released

Not preparing for climate change in Washington State may cost residents over $10 billion per year by 2020. Yesterday, the Department of Ecology released Preparing for a Changing Climate: Washington State’s Integrated Climate Response Strategy, which includes discussions of human health, habitats and species, oceans, coasts, water resources, agriculture, forests, infrastructure, research and monitoring, and public awareness and engagement. The report was prepared with the support of the departments of Commerce, Fish and Wildlife, Agriculture, Health, Transportation, and Natural Resources. For more background on the process behind the strategy, read our case study over on CAKE. To read the press release, go here.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Adaptation ABCs: I is for Interactive

is for Interactive.
Are you considering Interactive effects? This world of ours is full of interlocking systems, and it's worth pondering just how different elements of those systems affect each other. Interactions can be neutral, negative (a species that can handle a particular level of pollution under current conditions may not be able to survive that same level of pollution under different climatic conditions, and moving a species at risk of extinction in its historic range to a new, more climatically suitable location may push some of its new neighbors to extinction), or positive (a species that's stressed by warmer conditions may still do well if its competitors or predators are even more stressed than it is, and getting rid of particular non-native species may decrease the vulnerability of a system to climate changes). We can't anticipate everything, but if we at least ask ourselves about possible interactions we may be able to make wiser choices.