Once Is Not Enough

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Santa Margarita Lake-Explore #126 2/5/15” by Linda Tanner is licensed under CC BY 2.0

by David Carle, author of Introduction to Water in California, Second Edition

Water is the essence of life, the key to California’s history and its future. Today, water choices are complicated by ignorance about how water reaches faucets and farm fields and by our society’s unwillingness to step away from an historic attitude about water supply that might be characterized as: “Too much will never be enough.”

Must we choose massive twin tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta or expensive new dams that will yield only a small percentage of their constructed reservoir capacities? Does it make sense to build ultra-expensive ocean desalination plants? “Fish versus farmers?” Really? Must we go there? Why pump from groundwater basins at rates we know are unsustainable and irresponsible? Can’t we admit that returning water to the environment is not a new “water demand,” but belated recognition that far too much has been taken away?

Incredible progress is being made in this state, where cities and large water districts are weaning themselves from imported water. And much more is possible. Every Californian should know that:

  • Through conservation and highly-treated wastewater, the Water Replenishment District of Southern California (which used to import 80 percent of its supply for 4 million customers) aims for 100 percent reliance on stormwater and recycling in the near future.
  • The City of Santa Monica plans to eliminate use of imported water sources by 2020.
  • Los Angeles intends to cut its imported water purchases in half by 2025.
  • Agricultural efficiencies could save 4 to 6 million acre-feet of water a year in the state (according to several published studies; equivalent to what is diverted from the Delta each year).

Thirsts can be quenched by wiser use of water within cities and on farms. Let’s use local water again and again…and again. Once is not enough. New urban development should be designed to add nothing to the overall community “thirst.” The 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act set implementation goals in the year 2040; can’t that plodding approach be accelerated? Let’s push for irrigation and crop choices that reduce agricultural thirsts, because wiser farm production benefits the entire society.

The future we choose for California will continue to be shaped by decisions about water.

David Carle is a former park ranger and the author of California Natural History Guides about water, fire, air, and soil (UC Press), as well as other books in water history and management, including Drowning the Dream: California’s Water Choices at the Millennium and Water and the California Dream. His most recent UC Press book is Traveling the 38th Parallel: A Water Line around the World (2013).

The new, updated edition of Introduction to Water in California is available for purchase now. Order your copy here.


Parrots of the Wild Explores the Lives of World’s Most Fascinating Birds

When Cathy Toft first sat down to begin writing Parrots of the Wild, she envisioned the book as an essential piece of literature that would give many people a newfound appreciation for parrots and their complex lives. As James Gilardi–a friend of Cathy’s as well as Executive Director of the World Parrot Trust–notes in the book’s forward, “there is a great deal more going on with parrots than first meets the eye.”

Parrots of the Wild goes under the colorful exteriors of parrots to examine everything from their cognitive abilities to foraging patterns and mating behaviors. Cathy Toft and co-author Tim Wright examine over 350 species of parrots through the lens of their own work and over 2,400 published academic studies. Additionally, a portion of the book’s proceeds go towards various parrot conservation efforts around the world.

Explore a selection of the beautiful parrot images showcased in this book:


Southern California’s Coast: Past and Future

by Keith Heyer Meldahl

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California Coast” by Kārlis Dambrāns is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Walk on a Southern California beach, and a sense of permanence may come to mind. The sand scrunches predictably underfoot, the coastal bluffs loom seemingly unchanged, and the sea brushes the shore with its same ageless rhythm. Yet the scene can quickly change. Waves from a single storm may erase that beach. Portions of the bluff may collapse without warning. A large earthquake might elevate the coast several feet in an instant. And if we flip back through just the last few million years, the coastal scene, far from appearing stable, looks like frenetic animation. The sea bobs up and down, earthquakes crackle without letup, tsunamis wash ashore, and islands lurch up from the sea.

Does it matter to know these things? I think yes. Probing Southern California’s geologic past can inform decisions we make today. The past tells us that earthquakes and tsunamis will strike the coast again, and although we cannot predict when or where, we can prepare. It also tells us that Southern California’s beaches are in constant flux, with sand arriving and leaving in vast quantities every year. But river dams and seawalls have choked off sand arrivals to the beaches, so now more sand leaves than arrives. Shrunken beaches give coastal bluffs less protection from wave attack. Today, miles of rock and concrete armor much of Southern California’s coast, but these only postpone the sea’s advance. And what of the sea itself? Here too, the past is clear. In recent geologic time, the sea has risen and fallen hundreds of feet as polar ice sheets have come and gone. By happenstance, much of human history has unfolded during a time of unusually stable sea level. That is changing. We presently face a probable sea rise of two to six feet over the next century.

These developments—shrinking beaches and rising seas—point to a looming coastal erosion crisis for Southern California. How will we handle it? Perhaps through a combination of managed retreat and beach replenishment (importing sand to depleted beaches). But the scale of such replenishment will necessarily be enormous. We will need to import enough sand onto our beaches to make up for ongoing losses from dams and seawalls and to keep up with the rising sea. I’m reminded of Alice in Wonderland, where the Red Queen explains to Alice, “You see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place.”

Keith Heyer Meldahl is Professor of Geology and Oceanography at Mira Costa College and the author of Surf, Sand, and Stone: How Waves, Earthquakes, and Other Forces Shape the Southern California Coast (UC Press, 2015).

 


Is Climate Change a Religious Issue?

by Evan Berry, author of Devoted to Nature: The Religious Roots of American Environmentalism

Some Americans, especially among the most trenchant ranks of conservative Catholics, have expressed outrage about Pope Francis’ direct engagement with environmental issues. For example, in his open letter explaining his boycott of the Pope’s address to Congress, Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ) decried the Vatican’s unfortunate departure from “standard Christian theology.” In a different line of attack, the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank, claims to have identified the creeping influence of “paganism” in Laudato Si, the Pope’s encyclical on climate change. One the other side of the aisle, many political liberals, both inside and outside the American Catholic community, are thrilled about Pope Francis’ candid discussion of climate change and his message of justice and mercy. Setting aside for the moment the embittered and divisive tenor of American politics, this public scuffle reminds us that many people in the U.S. continue to disagree not just about what bearing religion might have on environmental issues, but about whether it should have any bearing at all.

Scenes from the Life of St Francis (Scene 7), 1452
Scenes from the Life of St Francis (Scene 7), 1452

When climate skeptics suggest we “leave science to the scientists,” they are asserting a partition between the technocratic process of policy construction and various other forms of knowledge, including especially religiously grounded moral convictions. This is an old ideology about the place religion ought have in American public life, one that holds that religion is primarily about private beliefs and that it should not be publicly invoked in political discourse. A number of excellent books have described the way this paradigm held sway throughout the middle decades of the 20th century, but receded into the background along with the rise of the Christian Right as an internally coherent voting block (e.g. Christian Smith’s Christian America). Although it is ironic that this point of view should reappear among precisely the same constituency that once tore it down, the underappreciated story about conservative religious objections to religious environmentalism is that they are historically wrongheaded.

9780520285736The idea that Christianity is a radically anthropocentric religion drove a deep wedge between environmentalists and traditionalists, but as religiously inflected ecological movements continue to grow and mature, other stories about Christianity’s environmental legacy are resurfacing. Devoted to Nature tells such a story, arguing not that Christians have been central to the development of the American environmental movement, but that Christian theological ideas have had a profound impact on the particular shape the movement took, especially during the formative decades at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. Questions about whether or not human beings should be understood as part of the natural order or as something apart from it are equally essential to both environmentalism and to Christian theology. Efforts to reconcile humanity to a broken and betrayed environment are deeply indebted to the Genesis account of human origins. As Pope Francis and other religious leaders continue to agitate for climate justice, we would do well not to ask whether their voices have a legitimate place in environmental politics, but instead to ask more probing questions about how our environmental politics themselves are generated by our religious histories.


Evan Berry is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion at American University and Codirector of its Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs master’s program.


California: Taking Stock, Looking Ahead

by Erika Zavaleta

This guest post is published to coincide with the Ecological Society of America conference in Baltimore, MD. Come back for a new post every day through the end of the conference on Thursday, August 13th.

9780520278806 (1)Hal Mooney and I envisioned Ecosystems of California to tackle a simple question: what do we know about the trajectory of this globally significant region’s ecology, from the deep past into the next 100 years? To understand process and dynamism in what has long been a complex social-ecological system called for a close look at prehistory as well as scenarios for the future, and management and use as well as natural history. An ecology that includes society has roots in the peculiar way that science evolved in California from the late 19th century: rapidly, with strong integration across disciplines from geology to botany, and in the context of sweeping environmental changes that from the outset linked ecological science with conservation efforts here. A social take on ecology is not the same thing as a perspective that nature is dead. To the contrary, in the words of contributors Bernie Tershy and colleagues, it is an explicit look at the power we hold given California’s extraordinary intellectual, economic and cultural resources to “have both thriving human communities and thriving ecosystems with their full diversity of species.”

We live in exciting times. California, as the rest of the world, faces accelerating change on every front. The perspectives of many contributors to our book converged on climate change, invasive species, and continued land cover change as particularly acute challenges to the region. The happy news is that much of this ongoing change is also for good: leaving behind the long legacy of DDT and the nadir of our state’s air and water quality, discovering new restoration tools and conservation partnerships, innovating policy responses to climate change, recovering long-lost species, forging sustainable paths in forestry and fisheries management. With each passing year, any future possible becomes the one we have chosen. A crucial piece of choosing well, and realizing that vision, is to understand the dynamics and history of our ecological heritage and to embrace our roles in it.

Erika Zavaleta is Professor of Environmental Studies at University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research bridges ecological theory with conservation and management practice. She received the 2008 Sustainability Science Award from the Ecological Society of America and has published in Science, Nature, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 

 


Gardens of the Queen, a Bygone Era for Coral Reefs, or a Future that Benefits from Bygone Eras?

by Keryn B. Gedan

This guest post is published to coincide with the Ecological Society of America conference in Baltimore, MD. Come back for a new post every day through the end of the conference on Thursday, August 13th.

9780520276949 (1)Cuba’s Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) marine protected area, recently in the news due to the thawing of relations with the United States, is described as a time capsule of the Caribbean 50 to 100 years ago, before widespread degradation of coral reefs by disease, climate change, and overfishing. It teems with sharks and large fish, including the endangered goliath grouper (Pina-Amargós et al. 2014).

However, as marine biologist John Bruno underscores in an excellent blog piece, the reefs of the Gardens of the Queen are not immune to the regional decline in coral cover, given their low coral cover (18%) relative to a historical baseline for the region (50% coral cover), and low coral recruitment. Bruno’s finding that Cuba’s celebrated MPA is hardly “pristine” may shock many observers. However, his analysis will not surprise scientists with an appreciation of marine historical ecology, the study of past interactions between people and the marine environment. After all, scientists who value marine historical ecology are trained to look beyond discussions of how marine ecosystems “should look” at present to focus instead on how these ecosystems did look over past centuries or millennia. In that context, virtually no environment can be described as pristine.

Rather than merely describing past systems, today’s marine historical ecologists learn from the past to inform conservation efforts. Fishing bans led to the remarkable recovery of fish and shark populations over the past two decades in the Gardens of the Queen, demonstrating the resilience of some marine populations and the effectiveness of no-take MPAs for a diversity of fish species. But just how effective is protection over multiple generations of marine animals? A recent synthesis of population trajectories after the implementation of harvesting bans and other legislated protection shows that some species recover, while others do not; that species with more severe declines exhibit weaker recoveries; and that recoveries often take much longer than 20 years (Lotze 2015). There are countless useful historical examples of how human communities have managed marine environments. For instance, Kittinger et al. (2015) find that the native Hawaiians fished reefs sustainably for centuries prior to Western contact using customary management approaches that included time and area closures, gear restrictions, and social taboos on overharvest and waste.

These lessons, collected in a new release from UC Press, Marine Historical Ecology in Conservation by Kittinger and colleagues, are timely for Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen MPA, where the relationship between people and place is on the brink of change, and where the future is likely to hold more intensive tourism, sport fishing, and marine research. Nor is Cuba alone in facing conservation challenges and environmental change that demand time-tested best practices of conservation and management.

Keryn B. Gedan, PhD, is Lecturer in the Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology Graduate Program at the University of Maryland.

References:

Kittinger, J.N., Cinner, J.E., Aswani, S., and A.T. White. 2015. Back to the future: Integrating customary practices and institutions into comanagement of small-scale fisheries. In Marine historical ecology in conservation: applying the past to manage for the future. Eds. Kittinger, J.N., McClenachan, L., Gedan, K.B., and Blight, L.K. UC Press.

Lotze, H. 2015. What recovery of exploited marine animals tells us about management and conservation. In Marine historical ecology in conservation: applying the past to manage for the future. Eds. Kittinger, J.N., McClenachan, L., Gedan, K.B., and L.K. Blight. UC Press.

Pina-Amargós, F., González-Sansón, G., Martín-Blanco, F., and A. Valdivia. 2014. Evidence for protection of targeted reef fish on the largest marine reserve in the Caribbean. PeerJ 2:e274. https://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.274

 


Getting Ahead of the Endangered Species Act

by Josh Donlan

This guest post is published to coincide with the Ecological Society of America conference in Baltimore, MD. Come back for a new post every day through the end of the conference on Thursday, August 13th.

Donlan
Josh Donlan

While there are many views on the US Endangered Species Act (ESA), few would argue that it is efficient and cost-effective. Acting late to save something rare is usually slow and expensive. It also causes conflict—which is all too common with endangered species conservation. Thus, any policy that incentivizes conservation action for imperiled species prior to their listing under the ESA should be embraced wholeheartedly. Such proactive policies are especially needed in today’s world. Many, if not most, species are conservation-reliant: the threats they face cannot be entirely eliminated; rather, they must be constantly managed and minimized. Privately held land makes up the majority of land tenure in the United States, and a high percentage of at-risk species and their habitats are found on private lands.

The ESA is strongest at preventing additional harm from occurring. It is weak in promoting proactive measures to improve environmental conditions. Due out this summer, prelisting conservation does just that: provides incentives for landowners to conserve candidate species before they are listed.

In US Fish and Wildlife Service’s own words, the proposed policy “provides a mechanism for landowners, government agencies, and others to obtain credits for current conservation efforts benefitting declining species. These conservation credits can be redeemed later or sold to a third party to offset or mitigate detrimental actions to a species if it later gains ESA protection. Credits can be earned only before a species becomes listed and only for actions that are not mandated by federal, state, or local law.”

This is a big deal for several reasons.

First, it provides a policy pathway for anyone to invest in early species conservation, and get credit for that action if and when the species is listed. This means private entities and federal agencies. Those investment and actions must be voluntary and part of a state conservation program. Prelisting conservation is different from similar policy instruments in place, such as Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAA). These are only available to non-federal property owners. Providing a proactive tool to agencies like the Department of Defense could drastically improve voluntary species conservation on military lands (e.g., the US Marine Corp alone operates on 2.3 million acres). Further, CCAAs only provide assurances on the lack of further obligations if a species is listed. In contrast, prelisting conservation policy will provide credits that can be carried forward and used to mitigate the impacts of actions carried out subsequent to listing.

Second, prelisting credits are transferable. This opens up the opportunity for regional prelisting species conservation markets. The Service is allowing for flexibility on the criteria of a credit, which will likely vary across species and situation. However, any credit must meet a net conservation benefit standard: “a credit must be greater than the detriment from the action for which the credit is later redeemed, providing an overall benefit to the species.” The ability to buy and sell credits is perhaps the most exciting aspect of prelisting conservation policy. Why? Because it potentially provides strong incentives for private landowners to engage in stewardship behaviors for imperiled species. A rancher in the West could receive an annual check from an oil and gas company to restore and maintain healthy Greater Sage-Grouse habitat. Instead of selling his land because of high property taxes, a retired Georgia forest landowner could improve his land for gopher tortoises via prescribed burning and invasive plant control, and get paid by the the US Army to do so. These are exciting prospects.

There is strong support for prelisting conservation policy, including from the Western Governor’s Association. The devil, of course, is in the execution. Practitioners should take special care in the design of prelisting conservation programs. That care should extend beyond the biology of the target species to include the potential buyers and sellers of credits. Understanding the needs and preference of the buyers and sellers will be essential in order to design programs that incentivize sufficient participation to achieve the desired landscape-level net conservation benefits. Program designers should remember that these programs are voluntary—and a program with few participants will do little for species conservation nor public support for the ESA.

Josh Donlan is the Director of Advanced Conservation Strategies, a Visiting Fellow at Cornell University, and editor of Proactive Strategies for Protecting Species: Pre-listing Conservation and US Endangered Species Act (March 2015, UC Press).


2015 Ecological Society of America

Cast your academic fishing nets into the Chesapeake Bay with University of California Press during the 2015 Ecological Society of America meeting! This year’s ESA meeting convenes August 9-14 in Baltimore, MD.

Visit us at Baltimore Convention Center booths 307 and 309 to purchase our latest ecology and environment publications for the following offers:

  • 30% off conference discount and free worldwide shipping
  • Request exam copy requests for course adoption for your upcoming classes
  • Win $100 worth of books! Join our eNews subscription list for contest eligibility.

This year’s ESA meeting theme is “Ecological Science at the Frontier.” Our booth will feature groundbreaking and award winning titles exploring topics within ecology, conservation, marine biology, and environmental history.

Please see our conference program ad for our latest offerings. Acquisitions and marketing staff will be available for your publishing questions.

Follow ESA’s Twitter @esa_org and hashtag #ESA2015 for current meeting news.


Sale Extended Through June 5 – Save 40%

onlinesale2015_landingpage_extended

 

 

 

 

 

Our sale has been extended through June 5th!

Use discount code 15W8482 at checkout on our for 40% off your purchase. For orders shipped to the US and Canada use the “Shop Now” button below. For international orders please see our website for ordering instructions. This is your last chance!

This is the perfect opportunity to get some of our most anticipated Fall titles:

Parrots of the WildParrots of the Wild: A Natural History of the World’s Most Captivating Birds

Catherine A. Toft and Tim Wright

A synthetic account of the diversity and ecology of wild parrots, this book distills knowledge from the authors’ own research and from their review of more than 2,400 published scientific studies. The book is enhanced by an array of illustrations, including nearly ninety color photos of wild parrots represented in their natural habitats. Parrots of the Wild melds scientific exploration with features directed at the parrot enthusiast to inform and delight a broad audience.

 

Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 3The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 3: The Complete and Authoritative Edition

Edited by Benjamin Griffin and Harriet E. Smith

The surprising final chapter of a great American life. Created from March 1907 to December 1909, these dictations present Mark Twain at the end of his life. Also included in this final volume of the Autobiography is the previously unpublished “Ashcroft-Lyon Manuscript.”

 

 

 

Islamic StateIslamic State: The Digital Caliphate

Abdel Bari Atwan

Islamic State stunned the world when it overran an area the size of Great Britain on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border in a matter of weeks and proclaimed the birth of a new Caliphate. In this timely and important book, Abdel Bari Atwan draws on his unrivaled knowledge of the global jihadi movement and Middle Eastern geopolitics to reveal the origins and modus operandi of Islamic State.

 

 

The Land of Open GravesThe Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail

Jason De León with photographs by Michael Wells

In his gripping and provocative debut, anthropologist Jason De León sheds light on one of the most pressing political issues of our time—the human consequences of US immigration policy. The Land of Open Graves reveals the suffering and death that take place daily in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona as thousands of undocumented migrants attempt to cross from Mexico into the United States.

 

 


Save 40% on all UCPress titles, June 3-4, 2015

onlinesale2015_homepage

UC Press brings you innovative, thought-provoking books on a world of subjects. Explore thousands of titles in your areas of interest—from cultural history and social problems to wine guides and popular music.

Use discount code 15W8482 at checkout on our for 40% off your purchase. For orders shipped to the US and Canada use the “Shop Now” button below. For international orders please see our website for ordering instructions. Today and tomorrow (June 3 and 4) only.

This is also a great opportunity to pre-order some of our biggest titles coming out this fall.

Parrots of the WildParrots of the Wild: A Natural History of the World’s Most Captivating Birds

Catherine A. Toft and Tim Wright

A synthetic account of the diversity and ecology of wild parrots, this book distills knowledge from the authors’ own research and from their review of more than 2,400 published scientific studies. The book is enhanced by an array of illustrations, including nearly ninety color photos of wild parrots represented in their natural habitats. Parrots of the Wild melds scientific exploration with features directed at the parrot enthusiast to inform and delight a broad audience.

 

 

Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 3The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 3: The Complete and Authoritative Edition

Edited by Benjamin Griffin and Harriet E. Smith

The surprising final chapter of a great American life. Created from March 1907 to December 1909, these dictations present Mark Twain at the end of his life. Also included in this final volume of the Autobiography is the previously unpublished “Ashcroft-Lyon Manuscript.”

 

 

 

Islamic StateIslamic State: The Digital Caliphate

Abdel Bari Atwan

Islamic State stunned the world when it overran an area the size of Great Britain on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border in a matter of weeks and proclaimed the birth of a new Caliphate. In this timely and important book, Abdel Bari Atwan draws on his unrivaled knowledge of the global jihadi movement and Middle Eastern geopolitics to reveal the origins and modus operandi of Islamic State.

 

 

The Land of Open Graves

The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail

Jason De León with photographs by Michael Wells

In his gripping and provocative debut, anthropologist Jason De León sheds light on one of the most pressing political issues of our time—the human consequences of US immigration policy. The Land of Open Graves reveals the suffering and death that take place daily in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona as thousands of undocumented migrants attempt to cross from Mexico into the United States.