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(506) 2223-1327                    Published Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012,  in Vol. 12, No. 256                   Email us
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Digital system allows Android users to report crime
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Suppose a crook takes your wallet or purse but not your mobile device?

Or maybe you have suspicions about that waiter in the local restaurant.

In both cases, the security ministry has an Android application for you.

The application is designed to prevent crimes, said the ministry. In conjunction with the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad and the Gobierno Digital program, the application is available via Google.

The software has several functions. First, it offers advice for citizens to take to protect themselves under different scenarios, said the ministry, correctly called the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.

But the device also provides a way to report a crime in real time. Assuming the crook has not taken the mobile device, a user can register and then file a report to the local police.

The ministry did not say if this would take the place of a formal crime report to the Judicial Investigating Organization.
application

Still, it is supposed to generate a response from the Fuerza Pública.

The program also provides access to a data base of most wanted individuals where you can check out that suspicious waiter.

The application is only available for Android devices, and the user has to have or create a Gmail account with Google for it to function. 

The application can be downloaded by clicking on the icon above.


Higher corporation tax will be 189,700 colons
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As expected, the base judicial salary on which the tax on corporations is figured has increased.

Owners of active corporations will have to pay 189,700 colons by Jan. 15 to avoid interest and the freezing of the company. That is about $380.

Those owning inactive corporations include many expats who hold vehicles and real estate is sociedades anónimas or limited liability corporations.

The tax bill for inactive corporations will be half that for active entities or 94,850 colons, about $190.

Costa Rica law sets many fines and taxes on what is called base salary. It is the salary of an auxiliar administrativo 1 who works in the Poder Judicial.

When the president signed the bill for the new tax in
2011, the base salary was 316,200 colons or about $622. So the tax on corporations, which went into force this April 1 was half that, $311.

But before the ink was dry, judicial workers got a raise to 360,000 colons a month, so the tax increased, too.

This is the first year that owners of corporations will pay the full tax.

The base salary affects many other aspects of daily life. The base salary system is used so that taxes and fines keep pace with inflation.

Judicial officials are generous to employees. The 19,400-colon raise to the auxiliar administrativo 1 represents an increase of about 5.4 percent. That is more than the annual increase in the nation's minimum wages and for salaries elsewhere in the government.

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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 256
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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


Real estate agents and services

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Our readers' opinions
Excess population needs
leadership by officials


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Mr. Kantrowitz is 100 percent spot on in his call for reducing or, better still, eliminating meat consumption.

But there is another human habit that needs changing. This habit results in the world’s biggest problem by far, and its ripples are called water pollution, land pollution, rainforest/habitat destruction, wildlife slaughter, human starvation and on and on. 

The habit, of course, is the one that sees humans continuing to produce still more humans. There are already way too many people on the planet. Adding to Earth’s population and thus straining Earth’s resources more can only increase the dire consequences. Where are the leaders?  Where is the public outcry?

Keith Herndon
Charleston, South Carolina


Not all livestock operations
are bad and unhealthy


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Regarding Henry Kantrowitz's letter of Dec. 24 about the wasteful livestock industry, I concur regarding the manner most livestock is raised today. It is unhealthy, wasteful and harmful to the environment.

But I disagree with using that to characterize all livestock operations as bad. If Costa Rica was raising their livestock in a proper manner for the health of the people and the land, that would not be the case.

In fact of all the farms I have visited, and I've visited a few, the ones that produced the healthiest foods and were the most sustainable were family farms that were integrated pasture-based livestock operations.

As well, I know and have visited non-integrated grass-fed beef operations where they're increasing their soil fertility every year, with very little work. Pastured based dairy, egg and meat operations where animals receive little or no grains and high rations of fresh grasses are nothing like what the letter describes. In fact just the opposite.

Other added benefits of a livestock operation vs. a non-livestock operation are the free energy and fertilizer you can utilize from the animal wastes and nutrient dense food!

It is a mistake to make suggestions/decisions regarding diet based on what are the most popular current production practices, which are a total failure. The focus should be on optimal nutrition and then optimal systems to create that nutrition, while improving the very soil its self while using as little inputs and time as necessary.

Albert Lusk
San Isidro, Heredia

 
 
Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him
 HERE!
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
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A.M. Costa Rica Third News Page
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 256
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Pato
                Loco
Friends of Pato Loco photo
As in many places in the country at holiday time, some 32 youngsters were treated to Christmas at the Papagayo Golf Club Saturday. They were guests of Friends of Pato Loco, a Playas del Coco organization. Each youngster got a large
gift packet with toys and clothes and their families got a large food packet each, organizers said. Similar scenes took place in many locations and were sponsored by churches, foundations and even the Fuerza Pública.


High achieving California youngsters begin a visit here today
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

High achieving elementary school students are due to arrive in Costa Rica this morning for a two-week visit to learn about the culture here.

The students are from the Watts Learning Center Charter School, a center city institution founded in 1997. The children are from the third through fifth grade along with parents and grandparents.

The program is called  Passport to the World, which provides students with international travel.

Watt Learning Center in Los Angeles has distinguished itself as a school that sets high standards for a rigorous academic program along with high expectations, it said. 

"Passport to the World trips are more than an adventure for our students," said Gene Fisher, board president. "The trips are a part of a continuum as we provide exceptional educational  opportunities for students and the school family.  The travel experiences are truly life changing and for some students their
 first airplane flight.  Students learn to obtain a passport and the process of international travel.  They experience other cultures in a variety of settings as they make new friends. 

"By having these experiences they are better equipped to become global citizens in the 21st Century."

Students from the school, primarily African American, consistently outperform peers in nearby schools on standardized tests. The California Charter School Association named the institution the California Charter School of the Year in 2007.

Students will visit Arenal, Tortuguero and Puerto Viejo, said Fisher. Their first stop is the Museo de Niños in San José. However, they also will be visiting an orphanage in Limón and bringing clothing to those there.

Said Fisher:  "Our plan includes spending time in small towns and villages with a special stop at an orphanage.  Teaching students the importance of caring and giving we are taking clothes (some were dresses made by women from Park Hills Community Church) and school supplies to children in an orphanage in Limón province.


Here's what's open and what's closed for the Christmas holidays
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is a list of what is open and what is closed for the holidays.

Museo de Jade
The country's jade museum will be closed to Jan. 2.  For more information call 2287-6034.

Museos del Banco Central de Costa Rica
The central bank museums located underneath Plaza de la Cultura will be closed New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.  The museums will be open normal hours from 9:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. on other days.

Museo Nacional
Museo Nacional will be closed New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.  It will be open today through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Teatro Nacional
Teatro Nacional is closed.  It will reopen New Year's Day.

Museo de Arte Costarricense
The Museo de Arte Costarricense will be closed until Jan. 2.

Poder Judicial
The administrative offices of Poder Judicial  are closed until  Jan. 7.  All other offices are open except New Year's Day, Jan. 1, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.   However, New Year's Eve the offices will only open in the mornings. 

Municipalidad de San José
The administrative offices for the San José municipality will be closed until Jan. 7.  Special sections such as business licensing, construction, Policia Municipal, cobros, cemetery services, street cleaning and park guards will only close Christmas and New Year's Day.   For more information, call 2547-6000.

Municipalidad de Escazú
The Escazú municipality will be closed until Jan. 7. 

Municipalidad de Curridabat
The Curridabat municipality will be closed on  Jan. 1.  For more information, call 2272-0126.

Municipalidad de Liberia, Guanacaste
The Liberia municipality will be closed until Jan. 7. 

Municipalidad de Santa Cruz
The Santa Cruz municipality will be closed until Jan. 7. 

Municipalidad de Carrillo, Guanacaste
The Carrillo municipality in Guanacaste will be closed until Jan. 7. 

Municipalidad de Montes de Oca (including San Pedro)
The Montes de Oca municipality will be closed New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.  For more information, call 2280-5589.

Banco Nacional
Banco Nacional will be closed New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.  The Desamparados branch will be closed Thursday for the carnival in that canton.  For more information, call 2212-2000.

Banco de Costa Rica
Bank employees will maintain normal hours until Saturday. The bank will be closed Jan. 1.

Pricesmart
Pricesmart will be closed New Year's Day.  For this holiday week it will have revised hours of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
A.M. Costa Rica
The country's most successful English-language newspaper will publish every weekday except New Year's Day and will update readers on the Web site and by email in case of emergencies. The Barrio Otoya offices are closed and will reopen Jan. 2. In case of emergencies, the number 8832-5564 will be available the entire vacation.

Despite the office being closed, advertising will be accepted as well as news items and tips. All emails will be monitored, but the preferred address is editor@amcostarica.com.

U.S. Embassy
The American Embassy will be closed New Year's Day.  For the rest of the holiday season the embassy will be open its regular hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Instituto Nacional de Seguros
The Instituto Nacional de Seguros will be closed until New Year's Day.  Health services will be closed New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day.  However the services for Casa de Salud and call centers will not close.  Services will return to the regular hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Jan. 2.

Farmacia Sucre
Farmacia Sucre will be closed New Year's Day. The rest of the holiday season the pharmacy will follow its normal schedule of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Walmart
Walmart will not close for the holidays but will have special hours. Until Dec. 30, the store will operate its normal hours of 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. On New Year's Eve, the store will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on New Year's Day the store will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Multiplaza
The Centro Comercial Multiplaza Escazú will be closed New Year's Day.  On New Year's Eve the Multiplaza will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad
The 112 agencies of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad will have normal hours from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except that they will be closed New Year's Day. An exception is the the agency in Sabana Norte that will be closed to Jan. 7. Agencies in commercial centers, such as Centro Comercial Multiplaza Escazú will be open during the times established by the mall management. The bulk of the telephone services like international calls, electrical outages and other services will be in operation 24 hours a day.


Episcopal Parish of The Good Shepherd
Anglican/Episcopal services:
Today, St. Stephen’s Day, 9 a.m. bilingual service.
Friday, Holy Innocents 2 p.m. bilingual service.
Sunday, Dec. 30, first Sunday of Christmas: English 8:30 a.m.
         and Español 11 a.m.
Monday, Dec. 31, New Year's Eve: Bilingual 6 p.m.
The Church of the Good Shepherd is on Avenida 4 between Calles 3 and 5 opposite the Colegio Superior de Señoritas. Further information is available via e-mail to pbuenpastor@hotmail.com or by calling 2222-1560.

International Baptist Church
The Guachipelín, Escazú, church will hold a concert at 4 p.m. Dec. 31.

Del Rey nightlife

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 256
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Researchers unravel intricacies of the human food clock
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

If the sinful excess of holiday eating sends human systems into butter-slathered, brandy-soaked overload, they are not alone: People who are jet-lagged, people who work graveyard shifts and plain-old late-night snackers know just how they feel.

All these activities upset the body’s food clock, a collection of interacting genes and molecules known technically as the food-entrainable oscillator, which keeps the human body on a metabolic even keel. A new study by researchers at the University of California — San Francisco is helping to reveal how this clock works on a molecular level.

Published this month in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the research team has shown that a protein called PKCγ is critical in resetting the food clock if eating habits change.

The study showed that normal laboratory mice given food only during their regular sleeping hours will adjust their food clock over time and begin to wake up from their slumber, and run around in anticipation of their new mealtime. But mice lacking the PKCγ gene are not able to respond to changes in their meal time. Instead they sleep right through it.

The work has implications for understanding the molecular basis of diabetes, obesity and other metabolic syndromes because a desynchronized food clock may serve as part of the pathology underlying these disorders, said Louis Ptacek, a professor at the university.

It may also help explain why night owls are more likely to be obese than morning larks, Ptacek said. 

“Understanding the molecular mechanism of how eating at the wrong time of the day desynchronizes the clocks in our body can facilitate the development of better treatments for disorders associated with night-eating syndrome, shift work and jet lag,” he added.

In most organisms, biological clockworks are governed by a master clock, referred to as the circadian oscillator, which keeps track of time and coordinates our biological processes with the rhythm of a 24-hour cycle of day and night.

Life forms as diverse as humans, mice and mustard greens all possess such master clocks. And in the last decade or so, scientists have uncovered many of their inner workings, uncovering many of the genes whose cycles are tied to the
food intake
Cheers!

clock and discovering how in mammals it is controlled by a tiny spot in the brain known as the superchiasmatic nucleus.

Scientists also know that in addition to the master clock, human bodies have other clocks operating in parallel throughout the day. One of these is the food clock, which is not tied to one specific spot in the brain but rather multiple sites throughout the body.

The food clock is there to help bodies make the most of the nutritional intake. It controls genes that help in everything from the absorption of nutrients in the digestive tract to their dispersal through the bloodstream, and it is designed to anticipate eating patterns. Even before someone eats a meal, the body begins to turn on some of these genes and turn off others, preparing for the burst of sustenance, which is why pangs of hunger are felt just as the lunch hour arrives.

Scientists have known that the food clock can be reset over time if an organism changes its eating patterns, eating to excess or at odd times, since the timing of the food clock is pegged to feeding during the prime foraging and hunting hours in the day. But until now, very little was known about how the food clock works on a genetic level.

What Ptacek and his colleagues discovered is the molecular basis for this phenomenon: the PKCγ protein binds to another molecule called BMAL and stabilizes it, which shifts the clock in time.


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A.M. Costa Rica's
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High
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Medical
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China begins rail service
with new, high-speed trains


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The world's longest high-speed rail line has begun operations in China.

The first train of the 2,298-kilometer Beijing-to-Guangzhou route departed from the capital at 9 a.m. local time, with a second train departing an hour later from Guangzhou.

Trains on the new route will travel at 300 kilometers an hour, which will reduce the travel time between Beijing and the southern economic hub from more than 20 hours to just eight. The trip is about 1,425 miles.

The Chinese government is planning to build a network of high-speed railways, with four east-west lines and four north-south lines in operation by 2020.


Iran says it repelled
a new cyber attack


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

An Iranian civil defense official says Iran has repelled a new cyber attack on computers at an industrial site in the country's south. 

Ali Akbar Akhavan told the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency Tuesday that the virus had penetrated some manufacturing industries in Hormuzgan province.  He says Iranian computer experts were able to halt the attack.

In 2010, a powerful computer virus called the Stuxnet worm disrupted the country's Bushehr nuclear power plant, as well as other factories.

Iran has blamed the United States and Israel in the past for the cyber attacks, saying they are part of an effort to destabilize the country's nuclear program.

The West suspects Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies.


Retail observer blames
disasters for weak sales

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Economists say a combination of natural and man-made disasters led to unexpectedly weak U.S. retail sales in the crucial two months before Christmas.

MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, which tracks retail spending, reports that sales rose just 0.7 percent over the same October-to-December period last year.

MasterCard says October's Superstorm Sandy affected sales in the Northeast while the murders of 20 schoolchildren and six teachers in Connecticut earlier this month put many people out of the spending mood.

It also says the looming fiscal cliff Jan. 1 with its package of tax hikes, is making many people reluctant to spend.

Many U.S. retailers depend on strong holiday sales for a successful year.


Obama returning today
to resume economic talks

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to return to Washington later today to resume consultations with Republican House Speaker John Boehner and other congressional leaders on a scaled-back deficit reduction package before the year ends.

Early last week, the president said he and Boehner were relatively close to an agreement on a compromise to avert what is being called a fiscal cliff, $500 billion in mandated spending cuts and tax increases that would affect almost all American workers starting Jan. 1. But by the end of last week, those efforts were in disarray as lawmakers fled Washington for their Christmas holiday break.

Obama and his family also left town for the Pacific state of Hawaii for what would normally be an extended vacation. But this year, Obama will return early for the fiscal talks.

The holiday recess began shortly after House Republicans abandoned an attempt to pass a Boehner compromise proposal that would have raised taxes for millionaires while keeping tax cuts for everyone else. Obama wants the tax break extended only up to the $400,000 level.
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 256
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Latin America news
Illegal gold operation
raided in Parque Corcovado

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Park rangers and police raided a gold panning operation in the Parque Nacional Corcovado and confiscated three pumping devices used to extract gold.

Gold panning is a traditional activity in and around the park, but the Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación noted that a new law forbidding open pit mining also covers panning operations. The raid Saturday took place at the Quebrada La Cholona where the water devices were being used to eat away at the banks of the waterway, said the conservation agency.

The park is isolated on the Osa peninsula, and patrolling the area always has been difficult. This time the agency rented a helicopter and used GPS devices for police units to maintain control.

The park also is plagued by illegal hunting and even drug smuggling.

The Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación estimated the value of the confiscated pumps to be about 2 million colons or about $4,000.

The illegal sluicing activity came to light because it was generating silt that flowed into the Gulfo Dulce. The silt was potted by helicopters, said the agency.


San José today is going
to the horses and riders


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Today is the day for the big horse parade through the main streets of San José. It is the Tope Nacional when Costa Ricans strive to enhance their ties with their agricultural past.

The column of thousands of horses is supposed to start from Plaza Víquez at 10 a.m., but such events usually start later than planned. The finish is at Parque la Sabana. Spectators will be in the many thousands.

In addition to riders, spectators will see lariat experts, various carts and a heavy presence of beer despite laws to the contrary.

The tope or "encounter" is part of the Festejos Populares de San José, known best for the carnival in the Zapote fairgrounds.  That event got off to a wet start Sunday, but that did not stop the professional and informal bullfighters that appeared in the rondel.

Professionals in traditional garb demonstrated various passes with the fighting bulls without inflicting harm. Then the gangs of informal bull baiters took the sloppy field.

There did not appear to be any serious injuries, but in several cases a bull assisted an informal bull baiter in leaving the ring.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional predicted cloudy skies in the Central Valley today with likely afternoon and evening showers in the central and southern Pacific coast.

The institute said that from 20 to 30 millimeters (.8 of an inch to 1.2 inches) of rain fell Christmas Day on the Caribbean coast with perhaps as much as 50 millimeters, nearly 2 inches, in the northern zone and northern Caribbean. The central and south Pacific got from 15 to 30 millimeters, about .6 to 1.2 inches.






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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 256
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mind control
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center photo
Jan Scheuermann, who has quadriplegia, brings a chocolate bar to her mouth using a robot arm she is guiding with her thoughts. Researcher Elke Brown, a physician, watches in the background.

Brain power controls an artificial hand

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A woman paralyzed from the neck down has learned to use her thoughts to manipulate a specially-designed motorized arm.  The sophisticated device is the fruit of years of research on mind-controlled artificial limbs, and researchers say the new arm is just the first of a new generation of such prosthetics.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania say the prosthetic arm is the most advanced mind-controlled prosthetic ever built.  They created the robotic limb, which they call Hector, to restore some motor control to a woman suffering from a degenerative neuromuscular disease that has left her paralyzed below the neck.  The motorized right arm, with its five-fingered and fully-jointed hand, allows the woman to pick up and hold objects, and to feed herself.  The arm movement is driven solely by electrical impulses from the woman's brain.

Neurobiologist Andrew Schwartz, who led the research team, says scientists implanted about 200 electrodes in the woman’s left cerebral cortex, the part of the brain associated with right arm movement.  The electrodes, implanted in February, recorded so-called action potentials from individual neurons or brain cells.

“And that was enough to then decode from those recordings what the intention of the subject was, the way she wanted to move her arm and her wrist and close her hand.  We could decode the information from those neurons to allow us to do that,” Schwartz explained.

The woman, Jan Scheuermann, took part in a 13-week training program to teach her brain to manipulate the sophisticated prosthetic.  She was a quick study, using her mind to move the robotic limb freely after just two weeks, researcher said.
 
Ms. Scheuermann reportedly told researchers that she planned to use Hector to feed herself some chocolate.  She finally did, sparking excitement and applause from the research team.

Team leader Andrew Schwartz says he and his colleagues plan to develop a second artificial arm for patients like Ms. Scheuermann so they can more effectively hold and manipulate objects, using two hands. “And really the satisfying part is that we’re not just making a machine move.  We’re actually recreating natural humanoid movements," he noted. "So we’re capturing all the beauty and grace and skill of a real movement, allowing these subjects to basically return to a certain amount of function that they used to have.”

Researchers would also like to create a wireless brain-machine interface system, converting neuronal impulses into computer signals, for people to use independently in their homes without wires or the supervision of scientists.

An article by the University of Pittsburgh’s Schwartz and colleagues describing the prosthetic arm is published in the journal The Lancet.


Ecosystems report paints grim picture

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Natural ecosystems in the United States are under greater stress from climate change than at any previous time in human history, according to a new report.

Experts from government agencies, academia and environmental organizations say these stressed ecosystems are also stressing wild plant and animal species, threatening the nation’s biodiversity.
   
When Super Storm Sandy ravaged the U.S. East Coast and inundated New York City in late October, many wondered if such extreme weather events might be linked to climate change, the gradual warming of the planet caused, in part, by decades of industrial emissions.

For New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo, there was no doubt.

“Climate change is a reality,” he said after Sandy struck.

The same global reality that swamped New York City is also wreaking havoc on the nation’s wild places, according to a warning contained in the new report, "Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity, Ecosystems and Ecosystem Services." 

Bruce Stein, a scientist with the National Wildlife Federation and a co-author of the report, says one of its key findings is that climate change is causing many plant and animal species to shift their geographic range and distribution faster than anticipated.

“What that means is that, as these species shift out of their historic ranges, we’re starting to see biological events happening earlier," Stein says. "We’re starting to see mismatches between things like flowers and their pollinators, and species that actually depend on one another.”

The impact of a warmer world isn’t just felt in more intense heat waves, droughts and storms every summer, but also in winters that are less cold, says the report.

“And those cold temperatures are a critical regulator of species outbreaks and also of species distributions," says ecologist Peter Groffman with the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and also a co-author of the report. "And so what we’ve seen is that these pest outbreaks are much worse than they would be because we’ve lost these very cold temperatures.”

Bug infestations are killing millions of trees in U.S. forests. If that assault continues, the report warns, tree mortality rates in western U.S. forests could double every 17 to 29 years. The loss of trees would lead to earlier melting of mountain snowpack and reduce the amount of water available for spring planting season.

“These changes in the winter affect ecosystems, biodiversity, during the summer period," Groffman says. "There are big changes in the timing of spring and fall, which affects the success for a variety of plant and animal species, and it affects the ability of ecosystems to hold on to improved water quality and air quality.”

That also means less water for people and communities to drink, says another report co-author, Mary Ruckelshaus, managing director of the Natural Capital Project.

“By most projections, climate change is going to triple the fraction of countries that are at high, or at very high, risk of running out of water," Ms. Ruckelshaus says. "People’s source of water is going to be increasingly imperiled due to climate change.”

The report’s authors call for improved monitoring and better coordination among federal and state agencies to adapt to the impacts of climate change. 
   
Stein with the National Wildlife Federation says the need is urgent and the stakes are high.

“I think the bottom line is that these impacts are not just going to happen in 50 or 100 years, many of them already are here and are only projected to get worse over time," Stein says. "The good news though, is that climate adaptation finally is being taken seriously, and many state and federal land management agencies, as well as cities and towns, are beginning to put that in practice.”       

For example, according to Stein, efforts are being made to prevent a recurrence of what happened during Super storm Sandy: salty ocean water driven by the storm surge breached the freshwater marsh systems on the Atlantic coast, contaminating critical shore bird habitats. 

“Because just this type of breach was anticipated given rising sea levels, National Wildlife Federation and the State of Delaware are already working to create comparable marsh further inland and up slope that is better protected from heightened sea levels and storm surges," he said.
 
The report released this week is one of several major technical studies being done as part of the U.S. National Climate Assessment, due out in 2013.
Useful links
Foreign Embassies
in Costa Rica
Ave Central at Calle 120
Pavas, San José. 920-1200
San José, Costa Rica
Call 506 2519-2000
after hours call
506 8863-4895

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