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August 6, 2012 09:59 AM

Architect Mark Lakeman will speak about Opportunity Village Eugene  in a talk called "Let's Do It Right" from 7 to 9 pm Tuesday, Aug. 14, at the new Unitarian Universalist Church, 1685 W. 13th Ave. in Eugene. This video is from an earlier talk.

August 2, 2012 04:23 PM

The chronic drought that hit western North America from 2000 to 2004 left dying forests and depleted river basins in its wake and was the strongest in 800 years, scientists have concluded, but they say those conditions will become the “new normal” for most of the coming century, according to a press release from Oregon State University. Here is the rest of the statement by David Stauth at OSU:

 

Such climatic extremes have increased as a result of global warming, a group of 10 researchers reported today in Nature Geoscience. And as bad as conditions were during the 2000-04 drought, they may eventually be seen as the good old days. 

 

Climate models and precipitation projections indicate this period will actually be closer to the “wet end” of a drier hydroclimate during the last half of the 21st century, scientists said. 

 

Aside from its impact on forests, crops, rivers and water tables, the drought also cut carbon sequestration by an average of 51 percent in a massive region of the western United States, Canada and Mexico, although some areas were hit much harder than others. As vegetation withered, this released more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, with the effect of amplifying global warming. 

 

“Climatic extremes such as this will cause more large-scale droughts and forest mortality, and the ability of vegetation to sequester carbon is going to decline,” said Beverly Law, a co-author of the study, professor of global change biology and terrestrial systems science in the College of Forestry at OSU, and former science director of AmeriFlux, an ecosystem observation network. 

 

“During this drought, carbon sequestration from this region was reduced by half,” Law said. “That’s a huge drop. And if global carbon emissions don’t come down, the future will be even worse.” 

This research was supported by the National Science Foundation, NASA, U.S. Department of Energy, and other agencies. The lead author was Christopher Schwalm at Northern Arizona University. Other collaborators were from the University of Colorado, University of California at Berkeley, University of British Columbia, San Diego State University, and other institutions. 

 

It’s not clear whether or not the current drought in theMidwest, now being called one of the worst since the Dust Bowl, is related to these same forces, Law said. This study did not address that, and there are some climate mechanisms in western North America that affect that region more than other parts of the country. 

 

But in the West, this multi-year drought was unlike anything seen in many centuries, based on tree ring data. The last two periods with drought events of similar severity were in the Middle Ages, from 977-981 and 1146-1151. The 2000-04 drought affected precipitation, soil moisture, river levels, crops, forests and grasslands. 

 

Ordinarily, Law said, the land sink in North America is able to sequester the equivalent of about 30 percent of the carbon emitted into the atmosphere by the use of fossil fuels in the same region. However, based on projected changes in precipitation and drought severity, scientists said that this carbon sink, at least in western North America, could disappear by the end of the century. 

“Areas that are already dry in the West are expected to get drier,” Law said. “We expect more extremes. And it’s these extreme periods that can really cause ecosystem damage, lead to climate-induced mortality of forests, and may cause some areas to convert from forest into shrublands or grassland.” 

 

During the 2000-04 drought, runoff in the upperColorado River basin was cut in half. Crop productivity in much of the West fell 5 percent. The productivity of forests and grasslands declined, along with snowpacks. Evapotranspiration decreased the most in evergreen needleleaf forests, about 33 percent. 

 

The effects are driven by human-caused increases in temperature, with associated lower soil moisture and decreased runoff in all major water basins of the western U.S., researchers said in the study. 

 

Although regional precipitations patterns are difficult to forecast, researchers in this report said that climate models are underestimating the extent and severity of drought, compared to actual observations. They say the situation will continue to worsen, and that 80 of the 95 years from 2006 to 2100 will have precipitation levels as low as, or lower than, this “turn of the century” drought from 2000-04. 

 

“Towards the latter half of the 21st century the precipitation regime associated with the turn of the century drought will represent an outlier of extreme wetness,” the scientists wrote in this study. 

These long-term trends are consistent with a 21st century “megadrought,” they said. 

 

An image of dying forests in the Southwest is available at http://bit.ly/OO9Hsr

July 30, 2012 05:42 PM

Find more information at www.womenspaceinc.org

July 27, 2012 01:51 PM

Thanks to Hugh Massingill for recording and sharing this video of the July 18 council meeting discussing the siting of a camp for the homeless and their support system.

July 25, 2012 10:49 AM

A new video from Predator Defense, intended for media use but also suitable for general public consumption.

July 25, 2012 03:19 PM

Harpist Thaddeu "Gaffer" Venar from Boulder, Colo., is in town to perform at Faerieworlds and will also play at 7:30 pm Tuesday, July 31, at Reality Kitchen, 245 Van Buren. Sliding scale. No one turned away.

July 12, 2012 02:11 PM

Legendary folksinger and storyteller Larry Penn is in town. He performed at Reality Kitchen Tuesday night (seen here with Jim Evangelista) and will be performing again at 7:30 this evening, July 12,  at Reality Kitchen on Van Buren, across from Ninkasi.

July 11, 2012 03:42 PM

How hot has it been? According to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has just confirmed what you already suspected: Americans are enduring the hottest weather in our recorded history.

 

The following was sent out his week by the EDF:

 

The past 12 months have been the warmest 12 months in the continental U.S. since record-keeping began back in 1895. NOAA says the odds of our record heat being a random event — rather than part of a global warming trend — are about 1 in 1.6 million.

 

How hot is it, really? Consider these facts from NOAA:

• From June 1t through July 10 of this year, the U.S. broke 147 all-time high-temperature records.

• In June 2012, communities across the U.S. broke 2,284 daily maximum temperature records. In the week of July 1 through July 9 of this year, they broke another 2,071.

• The average temperature in the contiguous U.S. was 71.2 degrees F – two full degrees above the 20th century average.

• Our miserable June followed the blistering heat from last year. (See NOAA’s new report, “State of the Climate in 2011” at http://wkly.ws/1bo.)

 

Take a look at this partial list of cities that broke records from June of 2011 through May of 2012:

Detroit — 101 degrees, (daily record)

Syracuse — 101 degrees, (daily record)

Mitchell, SD — 102 degrees (daily record)

Minneapolis — 103 degrees (daily record)

Bridgeport, CT — 103 degrees (all-time record)

Denver — 105 degrees (all-time record)

Newark — 108 degrees (all-time record)

Houston —109 degrees (all-time record)

Miles City, MT — 111 degrees (all-time record)

Wichita — 111 degrees (daily record)

Little Rock — 114 degrees (all-time record)

Childress, TX — 117 degrees (all-time record)

  

The blazing temperatures have led to other problems as well:

• The U.S. Drought Monitor says more than 56 percent of the contiguous U.S. is now under drought conditions — the highest level since record-keeping began in 2000.

Wildfires destroyed 1.3 million acres in Colorado and across the U.S. last month.

• Wyoming recorded its driest June ever this year; Colorado and Utah recorded their second-driest Junes.

• At the same time, Florida recorded its wettest June ever — thanks in part to Tropical Storm Debby, which dumped more than two feet of rain on some towns, and spawned flash floods and almost two dozen tornadoes. Duluth, Minnesota also had record floods last month. Large parts of the East Coast got hit by a killer Derecho storm that killed more than two dozen people; more than three million lost electricity, some for more than a week. And Washington, D.C. broke its record for worst heat wave ever, according to the Washington Post.

 

Unfortunately, these bad weather trends are not unexpected. For a long time now, the world’s top climate researchers have told us about the strong evidence of links between dangerous weather and climate change.

 

Greenhouse gas pollution traps heat in our atmosphere, which interferes with normal weather patterns. That means we can expect more — and probably worse — weird weather in the future.

 

Climate change doesn’t just mean higher heat. It means more severe and damaging weather events across the country – including more frequent and heavier rains in some areas, increased drought in others, a potential increase in the intensity of hurricanes, and more coastal erosion because of rising sea levels.

 

Changing weather patterns changes will affect our agriculture, water supplies, health and economy.

 

Source of this information is Steve Hamburg, chief scientist for EDF. He can be contacted at shamburg@edf.org

July 11, 2012 04:12 PM

This just in from the Oregon Marijuana Policy Initiative folks. Two pot-related initiatives were gathering signatures for the November ballot, but the OMPI effort failed.

 

The Oregon Marijuana Policy Initiative (OMPI) today filed suit in Oregon Circuit Court against Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown in response to her office’s disqualification of tens of thousands of valid signatures on petitions for Initiative Petition 24. IP-24 is a constitutional amendment to end marijuana prohibition for adults.

 

The suit was filed by attorney Ross Day on behalf of Wolfe and OMPI in Marion  County Circuit Court.

 

The OMPI lawsuit challenges a range of specific methods and reasons used by Brown’s office to disqualify individual voter signatures and entire sheets of up to 10 voter signatures each in a sampling process conducted in June, before the final deadline for signatures on petitions last week. That sampling process invalidated nearly 48 percent of the 122,000 signatures submitted by May 25 for IP-24, resulting in a historically low validity rate and damaging the initiative’s chance to make the ballot. Other measures submitted at the same time are suffering similarly low validation rates.

 

“Under the policies of Kate Brown, the Oregon Elections Division works hard to remove every possible signature from initiative petitions and for reasons that make no sense,” said Wolfe. ”Instead, they should be working to include as many signatures as possible, thus preserving citizen access to the ballot through the initiative system, as demanded by the Oregon Constitution.”

 

The OMPI lawsuit seeks to reopen the state’s validation work on IP-24 so that the measure can legitimately qualify the November ballot based a fair count of valid signatures from Oregon voters.

 

In total, including the final signature turn-in on July 6, IP-24 sponsors have submitted more than175,000 signatures to the secretary of state, far above the 116,284 valid voter signatures required to qualify the constitutional amendment. If just 66 percent of the signatures were deemed valid, IP-24 would hit the November 2012 ballot. But with just 54.1 percent of signatures found valid in the June sampling process, IP-24 is facing an uphill battle.

 

“The recently developed policies of the state and of Kate Brown reduce access to the initiative process and make it the province of only the wealthiest special interests,” Wolfe said. “A win for IP-24 would help restore ballot access to all petition sponsors. It is time to shine a bright light on the undemocratic policies and actions of Oregon’s Secretary of State.”

July 9, 2012 03:04 PM

Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson is holding a town hall meeting this week to discuss Lane County’s future and the tough issue of taxes. The meeting will run from 6:30 to 8 pm Tuesday, July 10, at Harris Hall, 125 E. 8th Ave. in Eugene. 

 

Sorenson has asked a panel of speakers to address issues related to Lane County and taxation: Anette Spickard, Lane County tax assessor; Jason Gettel, policy analyst for the Oregon Center for Public Policy; and Dave Rosenfeld, executive director of the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG).

 

Sorenson says Gettel and Rosenfeld “will be talking about Oregon’s income tax system and how it can be improved and made more fair.”

 

Sorenson can be reached at Pete.Sorenson@co.lane.or.us or call  606-9173.

July 9, 2012 04:11 PM

Jim Evangelista is organizing an ambitious event in the Whiteaker Tuesday, July 10, and needs some help.

July 6, 2012 03:28 PM


 Supporters and organizers of Initiative 9, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA), submitted 165,000 signatures to the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office this morning, and more signatures are expected to be turned in later today, the deadline for initiatives to qualify for Oregon’s November ballot.

 

“With nearly double the signatures needed, we’re confident we’ll qualify for the ballot and we’re excited to start reaching out to common-sense Oregon voters across the state,” says chief petitioner Paul Stanford in a press release.

 

The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act would regulate cannabis for adults 21 years of age and older, with sales through state-licensed stores only and 90 percent of the tax revenue would go to the state’s general fund. The measure would also approve and help kick-start an agricultural hemp industry in Oregon, say supporters.

 

“Taxing and regulating cannabis and agricultural hemp will create thousands of Oregon jobs, from agricultural jobs in hard-hit rural counties to manufacturing and engineering jobs in big cities and small towns. With countless applications in fiber, medicine, biofuel, food and consumer health products, hemp is a natural fit for Oregon world-leading sustainability economy,” reads the press release.

 

“A regulated hemp and marijuana industry in Oregon is about jobs, it’s about economic development,” says Jeff Anderson of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 555, which recently endorsed the Cannabis Tax Act. “We need to stop wasting time and allow Oregon’s entrepreneurs to create living-wage jobs. The time is now.”

July 3, 2012 12:43 PM

The Institute for Public Accuracy, which is in part based in Eugene with David Zupan, sent out quotes from climate change experts today under the heading,  "Media Miss the Forest for the Burning Trees."

 

Neil deMause is a Brooklyn-based journalist who has written extensively about climate change coverage, including the article "The Fires This Time: In coverage of extreme weather, media downplay climate change." See http://wkly.ws/1bg

 

deMause said today: "Despite overwhelming evidence that climate change is causing dramatic changes in weather patterns — from increasingly deadly heat waves and wildfires to hurricanes and tornadoes — media coverage has bent over backwards to avoid making the connection between extreme weather events and the warming climate. Instead, reporters have largely hidden behind the truism that there's no way to say that any given event was caused by climate change. Yes, in the same way that it's hard to show that any given person wouldn't have gotten cancer without smoking cigarettes -- but that doesn't mean that journalists should avoid reporting that smoking kills."

 

Joe Romm is a senior fellow at American Progress, edits Climate Progress and holds a Ph.D. in physics from MIT. He recently wrote the piece "Hell And High Water Strikes, Media Miss the Forest for the Burning Trees." See http://wkly.ws/1bf

 

Romm said today: "It is a basic conclusion of climate science that as the average temperature gets warmer, heat waves — which are extremes on top of the average — will get more intense. For the same reason, heat waves will last longer and cover a larger region. Recent research further links Arctic warming, and especially the loss of Arctic ice, to more extreme, prolonged weather events 'such as drought, flooding, cold spells and heat waves.'

 

   "Since droughts are made more intense by higher temperatures, which dry out the soil, and by earlier snowmelt, more intense droughts have long been predicted to occur as the planet warms. Since wildfires are worsened by drought and heat waves and earlier snowmelt, longer wildfire seasons and more intense firestorms has been another basic prediction.

 

   "We also know that as we warm the oceans, we end up with more water vapor in the atmosphere — 4 percent more than was in the atmosphere just a few decades ago. That is why another basic prediction of climate science has been more intense deluges and floods.

 

   "Scientists have already begun to document stronger heatwaves, worsening drought, longer widlfire seasons, and more intense downpours. Global warming has 'juiced' the climate, as if it were on steroids. The question is not whether you can blame a specific weather event on global warming. As Dr. Kevin Trenberth, former head of the Climate Analysis Section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research told the New York Times, 'It’s not the right question to ask if this storm or that storm is due to global warming, or is it natural variability. Nowadays, there’s always an element of both.'"

July 3, 2012 02:02 PM