The symposium is hosted each year by AAW’s Presidents’ Council, which is made up of the organization’s previous presidents. This year’s symposium will bring together prominent land use specialists and the Department of Interior’s directors for an open discussion.
The event’s keynote speaker is Myron Ebell, Director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Ebell also chairs the Cooler Heads Coalition, which comprises representatives from more than two dozen non-profit organizations based in the United States and abroad that challenge global warming alarmism and opposes energy rationing policies.
Other featured panelists include Brenda Burman, Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation; Harriet Hageman, Hageman Law P.C. in Cheyenne, Wyoming; and Dr. Andrea Travnicek, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Wildlife and Parks. A Department of Interior “Welcome” will be given my Susan Combs, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Interior exercising the Authority of the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks and lead for DOI Reorganization.
Calif. Lt. Governor Newsom Says Ag is at a Hinge-Moment in History
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director
In an exclusive interview with Gavin Newsom, Lieutenant Governor of California, during the recent Forbes AgTech Summit in Salinas, Newsom declared, “It’s interesting about California—outside of Hollywood—no two more iconic industries exist than Silicon Valley’s technology, and the agricultural industry.
“It seems self-evident to everybody here that we have a unique opportunity to collaborate,” Newsom said about the event which joined the Silicon Valley high tech industry with the state’s farming industry to create digital solutions for agriculture. “We have the unique opportunity based on proximity and based on history. It is also a cultural opportunity as it relates to relationships that have been formed over the course of generations to begin to build bridges and connect some dots.”
Newsom said he believes in bottom-up inspiration, not top-down. “I don’t think you can sell down your vision from Sacramento. It’s about regions rising together and creating conditions for just these type of collaborations,” he said.
Newsom particularly appreciated comments about innovation. “I wrote a book, [“Citizenville”] and I’m not here to promote that book,” said Newsom, “but the whole idea was about platform thinking. The concept is the federal government, state government, and even local government cannot prescribe a federal, state or local pill for every problem,” he said.
“The point is,” he continued, “if we’re going to solve the big problems of the day, we have to create an environment—a platform—to engage folks like yourselves to deliver the applications, literally and figuratively, to solve big problems. It’s self-evident to anyone who lives here in California, that we’ve got some big problems.”
“We have regulatory challenges in this state, and I say this as a business person with many businesses. I have a sense of kindred connection in spirit to the entrepreneurial ways that are here today,” he commented. Owner of three wineries, several restaurants and hotels, Newsom stated, “I am in the Ag business, of sorts. My point is, we could do a lot better to make a point that [agriculture] matters and we care,” he said.
“At the same time,” he added, “Silicon Valley is center-tip of the spear—all the innovation and discovery, and the change in the way we live, work and play,” Newsom said.
“We’re here on a hinge-moment in history where we are going from something old to something new, a world of mobile, local, and social; and cloud and crowd. It’s a moment of anxiety for a lot of people, a moment of merger—the detonation of globalization and technology coming together. Again, there’s a lot of anxiety,” he noted.
Newsom suggested this is an opportune time to try to connect dots and address challenges, not just on the regulatory side and on the economic development side in this state, but also on the self-evident issues of water scarcity in this state. “You may have different opinions about climate change, global warming or violent disruption,” said Newsom, “but, as a guy who told me the other day up in Dutch Flat, Placer County, ‘I don’t care about all you folks from San Francisco talking about climate change, but something just ain’t right.’ Which is another way of describing a connection that things have changed,” Newsom explained.
Newsom said that kind of predictive nature, in terms of how we construct a water system for a world that no longer exists, and for a population that is twice the size; self-evidently, we have to do things differently. “We’ve got to be more creative and we’ve got to be more strategic,” he noted.
“It’s a long way of saying we are grateful for the work [California farmers] are doing. The goal for us in California is to make these conversations sustainable. ‘Not just situational and not just one annual conversation, but these are dialogs that must continue every day in this state,” Newsom said.
“I’m one of those people who believes in the combination of nature and technology, bringing cross-disciplines together,” Newsom said. “Cross-pollinating, literally and figuratively, ideas and people—values. “I think we have an incredible opportunity here in California, not just to survive in the agricultural industry but to truly thrive in a growing, competitive environment.”
Researchers studying the fingerprint of human-caused climate change on extreme weather events in 2013 have found that it played a role in half of the events that they looked at, including the California drought and extreme heat events.
Climate change attribution — figuring out what role climate change is playing in our weather events — is a very difficult science. There are so many moving parts: ground-level weather conditions, large-scale atmospheric patterns, and global teleconnections, like El Nino, that influence weather worldwide. And a changing climate can influence all of them (or none of them) in any given moment.
Nonetheless, given how costly weather disasters have become, the question of how extreme events could be changing is possibly the most important question to ask in climate change. So each year, scientists take a look back at the way change change could have impacted a few notable extreme events, and publish their findings in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
One study in the report, which was released on Monday, concluded that “global warming has very likely increased the probability” of the large-scale atmospheric patterns that have played a role the current, historic California drought – a strong, persistent ridge of high pressure over the western U.S. has essentially blocked the region from being impacted by storms coming off the Pacific.
That ridging pattern, which lead to few precipitation events, was made more likely by the presence of human greenhouse gas emissions, the study says.
Two other studies that dug in to similar aspects of California drought were less eager to point the finger at human-caused climate change. Both studies looked at the role of warm ocean waters in the Pacific, and its relationship to California precipitation. While warm sea surface temperatures in the northeast Pacific would cause the dry ridging pattern over the western U.S., it would also act to cause heavier precipitation events over California by increasing the humidity.
While that’s not the outcome California saw in 2013 and the beginning of 2014, scientists say its enough of a question mark to remain uncertain on whether or not this event would have occurred without global warming.
However, it’s important to note that these studies looked at very specific, individual factors of the drought. California could be looking at its warmest year on record in 2014, but heat — which has a much more clear link with climate change, and acts to intensify and prolong a drought – was not considered in any of the studies looking at the California dry spell.
While drought remains somewhat of a question mark, scientists are most confident that the risk of 2013′s extreme heat events was made larger by human-caused climate change. All of the studies that looked at the extremely hot summers or heat waves around the globe concluded that climate change played some role in dialing up the temperature.
Australia, in particular, was severely impacted by heat extremes in the southern hemisphere summer of 2012-2013. The year was the hottest on record for the country, and subjected Australians to numerous heat waves and a drought that cost the government approximately $300 million USD. All of the studies that examined Australia’s summer temperatures found that climate change played a significant role in the heat, with one study even concluding that it has increased the risk of the event by two to three-fold.
“The results from the Australia studies are rather striking,” said Peter Stott of the Met Office Hadley Center in the U.K., and an editor in the report compilation in a press briefing. “It’s almost impossible, it’s very hard to imagine, those temperatures in a world without climate change.”
Hot summers and heat waves in New Zealand, Korea, China, and Japan were also examined, and determined to be influenced by climate change, and one group suggested that the Korea summer heat wave was made 10 times more likely by human-driven climate change.
The link between heavy precipitation events and human-caused climate change in 2013 appear to be more ambiguous.
Researchers who looked at the extreme precipitation events of 2013 found varying results — two studies found that human-caused climate change increased the likelihood of heavy precipitation events in the U.S. and India, while another two found no discernible link between the extreme precipitation events in Europe and climate change. One study, which addressed the extreme flooding event in Colorado in September 2013, found that the probability of such an event has even decreased in climate change.
Unsurprisingly, scientists found that the occurrence of cold waves — long periods of abnormally cold weather — have become much less likely in the presence of global warming. In particular, scientists looked at the extremely cold winter of 2013 in the U.K., finding that the probability of that event has dropped 30-fold.