2019-12-29. Our Cherished Rivers Are Under Threat. By Macarena Soler, Monti Aguirre and Juan Pablo Orrego, The New York Times (Opinion). [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/29/opinion/climate-change-hydroelectric-dam.html] Excerpt: … rivers, like many worldwide, have been threatened by dam projects that aim to provide power for distant cities and mining operations. Only one-third of the world’s 177 longest rivers remain free flowing, and just 21 rivers longer than 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) retain a direct connection to the sea. If we are to arrest global climate change, prevent the toxifying of freshwater sources and do right by all those who depend on rivers for survival, we must return more rivers to their natural state. …Hydropower is not a clean, green technology. Rivers help regulate an increasingly volatile global carbon cycle by transporting decaying organic material from land to sea, where it settles on the ocean floor. This draws an estimated 200 million tons of carbon out of the air each year….
2019-12-12. Scientists and Activists Examine Need for Climate Action. By Randy Showstack, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/articles/scientists-and-activists-examine-need-for-climate-action] Excerpt: Scientists shouldn’t have to apologize for being advocates “for a fact-based, objective discourse over what is arguably the greatest threat that we face as a civilization.” For Varshini Prakash, the climate crisis “is obviously very depressing” and “terrifying with the timeline that we’re working on” to curb greenhouse gas emissions. However, Prakash isn’t letting that stop her as she works to organize and mobilize youth and others to stop climate change. She is the cofounder of the Sunrise Movement, an organization that advocates for climate action and supports the Green New Deal initiative. She spoke at a 9 December session at AGU’s Fall Meeting 2019 in San Francisco, Calif., on aligning U.S. energy policy with a 1.5°C climate limit above preindustrial levels. The session included climate scientists and activists….
2019-11-06. New reactor could halve carbon dioxide emissions from ammonia production. By Robert F. Service, Science. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/11/new-reactor-could-halve-carbon-dioxide-emissions-ammonia-production] Excerpt: To feed more than 7 billion hungry souls, humanity relies on the century-old Haber-Bosch process to convert nitrogen from the air and methane from natural gas into ammonia, the starting material for fertilizer. But that process belches out more than 450 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually—about 1% of all human emissions, and more than any other industrial chemical reaction. Now, a new type of ceramic reactor could cut that in half. If it can be scaled up, the new technique could also lower the global price of fertilizer by making it easier to produce in small chemical plants close to where it’s used…..
2019-10-22. The World Can Make More Water From the Sea, but at What Cost? By Henry Fountain, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/22/climate/desalination-water-climate-change.html] Excerpt: THUWAL, Saudi Arabia — Desalinated seawater is the lifeblood of Saudi Arabia, no more so than at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, an international research center that rose from the dry, empty desert a decade ago. Produced from water from the adjacent Red Sea that is forced through salt-separating membranes, it is piped into the campus’s gleaming lab buildings and the shops, restaurants and cookie-cutter homes of the surrounding planned neighborhoods. …Desalination provides all of the university’s fresh water, nearly five million gallons a day. But that amount is just a tiny fraction of Saudi Arabia’s total production. …desalinated water makes up about half of the fresh water supply in this nation of 33 million people, one of the most water-starved on Earth. Worldwide, desalination is increasingly seen as one possible answer to problems of water quantity and quality that will worsen with global population growth and the extreme heat and prolonged drought linked to climate change. … the United Nations definition of absolute water scarcity, which is about 350 gallons per person per day, and a 2017 report from the World Bank [https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/water/publication/beyond-scarcity-water-security-in-the-middle-east-and-north-africa] suggests that climate change will be the biggest factor increasing the pressure on water supplies in the future. …There are environmental costs to desalination as well: in the emissions of greenhouse gases from the large amount of energy used, and in the disposal of the brine, which in addition to being extremely salty is laced with toxic treatment chemicals….
Life cycle assessment of supermarket carrier bags: a review of the bags available in 2006. Environment Agency (for protection of the environment in England and Wales).
2019-09-20. Protesting Climate Change, Young People Take to Streets in a Global Strike. By Somini Sengupta, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/20/climate/global-climate-strike.html] Excerpt: Anxious about their future on a hotter planet and angry at world leaders for failing to arrest the crisis, masses of young people poured into the streets on every continent on Friday for a day of global climate protests. Organizers estimated the turnout to be around four million in thousands of cities and towns worldwide. …They turned out in force in Berlin, where the police estimated 100,000 participants, with similar numbers in Melbourne and London. In New York City, the mayor’s office estimated that 60,000 people marched through the narrow streets of Lower Manhattan, while organizers put the total at 250,000. By the dozens in some places, and by the tens of thousands in others, young people demonstrated in cities like Manila, Kampala and Rio de Janeiro. A group of scientists rallied in Antarctica….
2019-09-17. As Amazon Smolders, Indonesia Fires Choke the Other Side of the World. By Richard C. Paddock and Muktita Suhartono, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/17/world/asia/indonesia-fires-photos.html] Excerpt: JAKARTA, Indonesia — Brazil has captured global attention over deliberately set fires that are burning the Amazon rainforest, often called the earth’s lungs. Now Indonesia is compounding the concern with blazes to clear forest on the other side of the world. Hundreds of wildfires burned across Indonesian Borneo and Sumatra on Tuesday, producing thick clouds of smoke that disrupted air travel, forced schools to close and sickened many thousands of people. Poorly equipped firefighters were unable to bring them under control. Officials said that about 80 percent of the fires were set intentionally to make room for palm plantations, a lucrative cash crop that has led to deforestation on much of Sumatra. The slash-and-burn conflagrations, which tore through sensitive rainforests where dozens of endangered species live, immediately drew comparisons to the wildfires in the Amazon basin that have destroyed more than 2 million acres….
2019-08-30. A teachable moment: educators must join students in demanding climate justice. By Jonathan Isham and Lee Smithey, The Guardian. [https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/30/climate-strike-teachers-students-greta-thunberg] Excerpt: We risk losing credibility with young people if we cannot take action in support of the defining cause of their generation. Sometimes it’s the students who teach. This week, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg arrived in New York City in a zero-emissions yacht, en route to the United Nations climate change summit. The purpose of the trip? Let’s call it a teachable moment. Over the past year, Greta and more than 2 million teens around the world have led school strikes for climate justice, demanding that their leaders end the age of fossil fuels. Now these young people have declared 20 September 2019 a historic day for a global climate strike by all people, young and old….
2019-08-27. Water harvester makes it easy to quench your thirst in the desert. By Bob Sanders, UC Berkeley News. [https://news.berkeley.edu/2019/08/27/water-harvester-makes-it-easy-to-quench-your-thirst-in-the-desert/] Excerpt: With water scarcity a growing problem worldwide, University of California, Berkeley, researchers are close to producing a microwave-sized water harvester that will allow you to pull all the water you need directly from the air — even in the hot, dry desert. In a paper appearing this week in ACS Central Science, a journal of the American Chemical Society, UC Berkeley’s Omar Yaghi and his colleagues describe the latest version of their water harvester, which can pull more than five cups of water (1.3 liters) from low-humidity air per day for each kilogram (2.2 pounds) of water-absorbing material, a very porous substance called a metal-organic framework, or MOF. That is more than the minimum required to stay alive. During field tests over three days in California’s arid Mojave Desert, the harvester reliably produced 0.7 liters per kilogram of absorber per day — nearly three cups of clean, pure H2O. That’s 10 times better than the previous version of the harvester. The harvester cycles 24/7, powered by solar panels and a battery…. See also Science Magazine: Crystalline nets harvest water from desert air, turn carbon dioxide into liquid fuel [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/09/crystalline-nets-harvest-water-desert-air-turn-carbon-dioxide-liquid-fuel]
2019-08-19. Scientists Have Been Underestimating the Pace of Climate Change. By Naomi Oreskes, Michael Oppenheimer, Dale Jamieson, Science. [https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/scientists-have-been-underestimating-the-pace-of-climate-change/] Excerpt: …climate change and its impacts are emerging faster than scientists previously thought, …When new observations of the climate system have provided more or better data, or permitted us to reevaluate old ones, the findings for ice extent, sea level rise and ocean temperature have generally been worse than earlier prevailing views. … Consistent underestimation is a form of bias—in the literal meaning of a systematic tendency to lean in one direction or another—which raises the question: what is causing this bias in scientific analyses of the climate system? The question is significant for two reasons. First, climate skeptics and deniers have often accused scientists of exaggerating the threat of climate change, but the evidence shows that not only have they not exaggerated, they have underestimated. …Among the factors that appear to contribute to underestimation is the perceived need for consensus, or what we label univocality: the felt need to speak in a single voice. Many scientists worry that if disagreement is publicly aired, government officials will conflate differences of opinion with ignorance and use this as justification for inaction. … The impulse toward univocality arose strongly in a debate over how to characterize the risk of disintegration of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) in the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC (AR4). Nearly all experts agreed there was such a risk as climate warmed, but some thought it was only very far in the future while others thought it might be more imminent. …everyone concurred that, if WAIS did not disintegrate soon, it would likely disintegrate in the long run. Therefore, the area of agreement lay in the domain of the long run—the conclusion of a non-imminent risk—and so that is what was reported. The result was a minimalist conclusion, and we know now that the estimates that were offered were almost certainly too low….. See also nyt. “How Scientists Got Climate Change So Wrong” [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/08/opinion/sunday/science-climate-change.html]
2019-08-17. ‘No sea sickness so far’: Greta Thunberg update on Atlantic crossing. By Seth Jacobson, The Guardian. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/aug/17/greta-thunberg-four-days-into-atlantic-crossing] Excerpt: Climate activist is four days into a two-week journey on solar-powered yacht. Four days into its two-week Atlantic crossing, the solar-powered yacht carrying climate activist Greta Thunberg is becalmed in the ocean after a choppy start to the trip, still 2,500 nautical miles from New York. …On Friday the boat, which is a high-speed planing monohull built for the 2016-17 single-handed, non-stop round-the-world Vendée Globe race, had “experienced uncomfortable conditions and everyone is feeling a bit seasick but nothing too bad or unexpected”, Herrmann tweeted on Friday. August is not the ideal time to cross the ocean as it is in the middle of the Atlantic’s hurricane season. The team’s progress is being tracked on a website [https://tracker.borisherrmannracing.com/]. Thunberg is hoping to cross to the US in time to appear at two crucial global gatherings: the Climate Action Summit [https://www.unenvironment.org/events/summit/climate-action-summit-2019] in New York on 21-23 September and the UN climate conference in Santiago in early December. She refused to travel by plane to the US because of the environmental impact of flying….
2019-08-12. State of the Climate in 2018. By American NOAA, Meteorological Society (AMS). [https://www.ametsoc.org/ams/index.cfm/publications/bulletin-of-the-american-meteorological-society-bams/state-of-the-climate/] Excerpt: The report, compiled by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, is based on contributions from scientists from around the world. It provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments located on land, water, ice, and in space….
2019-07-11. Giant batteries and cheap solar power are shoving fossil fuels off the grid. By Robert F. Service, Science Magazine. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/07/giant-batteries-and-cheap-solar-power-are-shoving-fossil-fuels-grid] Excerpt: This month, officials in Los Angeles, California, are expected to approve a deal that would make solar power cheaper than ever while also addressing its chief flaw: It works only when the sun shines. The deal calls for a huge solar farm backed up by one of the world’s largest batteries. It would provide 7% of the city’s electricity beginning in 2023 at a cost of 1.997 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) for the solar power and 1.3 cents per kWh for the battery. That’s cheaper than any power generated with fossil fuel. …As if on cue, last week a major U.S. coal company—West Virginia–based Revelation Energy LLC—filed for bankruptcy, the second in as many weeks. The new solar plus storage effort will be built in Kern County in California by 8minute Solar Energy. The project is expected to create a 400-megawatt solar array, generating roughly 876,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity annually, enough to power more than 65,000 homes during daylight hours. Its 800-MWh battery will store electricity for after the sun sets, reducing the need for natural gas–fired generators. Precipitous price declines have already driven a shift toward renewables backed by battery storage. In March, an analysis of more than 7000 global storage projects by Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported that the cost of utility-scale lithium-ion batteries had fallen by 76% since 2012, and by 35% in just the past 18 months, to $187 per MWh….
2019-07-04. Adding 1 billion hectares of forest could help check global warming. By Alex Fox, Science Magazine. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/07/adding-1-billion-hectares-forest-could-help-check-global-warming] Excerpt: Global temperatures could rise 1.5° C above industrial levels by as early as 2030 if current trends continue, but trees could help stem this climate crisis. A new analysis finds that adding nearly 1 billion additional hectares of forest could remove two-thirds of the roughly 300 gigatons of carbon humans have added to the atmosphere since the 1800s. …The latest report from the United Nations’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommended adding 1 billion hectares of forests to help limit global warming to 1.5° C by 2050….
2019-06-03. If Seeing the World Helps Ruin It, Should We Stay Home? By Andy Newman, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/03/travel/traveling-climate-change.html] Excerpt: The glaciers are melting, the coral reefs are dying, Miami Beach is slowly going under. Quick, says a voice in your head, go see them before they disappear! You are evil, says another voice. For you are hastening their destruction. To a lot of people who like to travel, these are morally bewildering times. …But it turns out there are ways to quantify your impact on the planet, at least roughly. In 2016, two climatologists published a paper [https://science.sciencemag.org/content/354/6313/747.full] in the prestigious journal Science showing a direct relationship between carbon emissions and the melting of Arctic sea ice. …Each additional metric ton of carbon dioxide or its equivalent — your share of the emissions on a cross-country flight one-way from New York to Los Angeles — shrinks the summer sea ice cover by 3 square meters, or 32 square feet, the authors, Dirk Notz and Julienne Stroeve, found. …Ships? Even worse. …Before we go, we will buy enough offsets to capture the annual methane emanations of a dozen cows [http://www.openthefuture.com/cheeseburger_CF.html] — that’s several times what is needed to balance out the carbon effects of our flights. May they help keep a polar bear afloat….
2019-05-22. Historic Solutions to Sea Level Rise May Help Modern Communities. By Sarah Derouin, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/articles/historic-solutions-to-sea-level-rise-may-help-modern-communities] Excerpt: For centuries, fighting rising sea levels has been a regular part of life for people in the Netherlands. Since the early 20th century, archeologists have been digging into how humans adapted and thrived in these flooded environments. Settlers in the low-lying region of what is now the northern Netherlands built elevated platforms [called terps] on the land, protecting their homes, crops, and livestock from the rising ocean and frequent flooding. These constructed landforms were highly successful, allowing settlers to thrive in low-lying lands for more than 1,500 years. …Terps were not simple piles of dirt, says Nieuwhof, but engineered structures that were resistant to erosion and could support a house without sagging. Early terps were built for a single home and were modest in height—only about 0.4 to 1 meter above what were likely the highest expected flood levels. …Under threat of inundation, colonizers increased both the height and area of the platforms. Nieuwhof explains that eventually, individual terps grew together, creating raised surfaces several meters high and big enough to include room for gardens or even fields. These expanded terps hosted small communities, sustaining populations of 15–20 people per square kilometer….
2019-04-30. Your Questions About Food and Climate Change, Answered—How to shop, cook and eat in a warming world. By Julia Moskin, Brad Plumer, Rebecca Lieberman and Eden Weingart, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/30/dining/climate-change-food-eating-habits.html] Excerpt: Does what I eat have an effect on climate change? Yes. The world’s food system is responsible for about one-quarter of the planet-warming greenhouse gases that humans generate each year. That includes raising and harvesting all the plants, animals and animal products we eat — beef, chicken, fish, milk, lentils, kale, corn and more — as well as processing, packaging and shipping food to markets all over the world. If you eat food, you’re part of this system. How exactly does food contribute to global warming? Lots of ways. Here are four of the biggest: When forests are cleared to make room for farms and livestock — this happens on a daily basis in some parts of the world — large stores of carbon are released into the atmosphere, which heats up the planet. When cows, sheep and goats digest their food, they burp up methane, another potent greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. Animal manure and rice paddies are also big methane sources. Finally, fossil fuels are used to operate farm machinery, make fertilizer and ship food around the globe, all of which generate emissions…. See also New York Times article, The Climate-Friendly Vegetable You Ought to Eat [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/30/dining/kelp-seaweed-recipes.html]
2019-04-01. Youth Call Climate Change a Generational Justice Issue. By Randy Showstack, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/articles/youth-call-climate-change-a-generational-justice-issue] F Excerpt: “Climate change is a generational justice and equity issue,” Jonah Gottlieb, a high school junior in Rohnert Park, Calif., told youth and adults in a jam-packed room in the U.S. Capitol Building. It was filled with earnest middle schoolers and high schoolers as well as adult climate change activists and some members of Congress. Climate change, Gottlieb said, “disproportionately affects students and young people in future generations.” As the codirector of Schools for Climate Action [https://schoolsforclimateaction.weebly.com/], Gottlieb was at the Capitol for the Youth and Educator Climate Advocacy Summit on 28 March to encourage Congress to support climate change policies…. See also “Template Email to School Board Members” and “Student Council Resolution Toolkit” [https://schoolsforclimateaction.weebly.com/resources.html]
2019-03-26. They Grew Up Around Fossil Fuels. Now, Their Jobs Are in Renewables. By John Schwartz (photos by Brandon Thibodeaux, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/03/26/climate/wind-solar-energy-workers.html] For GSS Energy Use chapter 3 and Climate Change chapter 10. Excerpt: CLAWSON, UTAH — Chris Riley comes from a coal town and a coal family, but he founded a company that could hasten coal’s decline. Lee Van Horn, whose father worked underground in the mines, spends some days more than 300 feet in the air atop a wind turbine. They, and the other people in this story, represent a shift, not just in power generation but in generations of workers as well. They come from places where fossil fuels like coal provided lifelong employment for their parents, grandparents and neighbors. They found a different path, but not necessarily out of a deep environmental commitment. In America today there is more employment in wind and solar power than in mining and burning coal. And a job’s a job….
2019-03-22. Judge Blocks Oil and Gas Leases on Public Land, Citing Climate Change. By Jenessa Duncombe, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/articles/judge-blocks-oil-and-gas-leases-on-public-land-citing-climate-change] Excerpt: In a court ruling Tuesday, 19 March, a federal judge temporarily halted oil and gas leases on 300,000 acres (1,200 square kilometers) of public lands in Wyoming because the sale of the leases “did not sufficiently consider climate change.” The Obama administration had auctioned off the land in 2015 and 2016 for oil and gas exploration. The court decision pauses these sales and orders the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to redo its environmental assessment. “This decision is hugely significant,” Noel Healy, a professor of geography at Salem State University in Massachusetts, told Eos. “It could be used to challenge Trump’s plans to further fossil fuel production across the U.S.” …“The Department of [the] Interior and BLM were willfully ignoring the climate consequences of oil and gas development across hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands,” Samantha Ruscavage-Barz, managing attorney for WildEarth Guardians and one of the plaintiffs in the case, told Eos. “We wanted to hold BLM accountable for its decisions to sacrifice public lands for dirty oil and gas.” Wyoming senator Mike Enzi (R) called the ruling “a shortsighted decision” that would “damage our workforce and economy” and set a “dangerous precedent for the future.” …The ruling pointed out a “critical flaw” in fossil fuel leasing, said Healy. BLM is required to evaluate the environmental impacts of the leases under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), but the agency failed to account for emissions from future oil and gas extraction and their impact on climate change. BLM argued that site-specific assessments completed later would take the emissions into account, but the judge ruled that this was inadequate given the “cumulative nature of climate change.” …It would simply be irresponsible to not consider the future consequences of our actions….
2019-03-15. Pictures From Youth Climate Strikes Around the World. By The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/15/climate/climate-school-strikes.html] Excerpt: From Sydney to Seoul, Cape Town to New York, children skipped school en masse Friday to demand action on climate change. It was a stark display of the alarm of a generation. It was also a glimpse of the anger directed at older people who have not, in the protesters’ view, taken global warming seriously enough…. See also Eos article Youth Call for Action with Climate Strikes https://eos.org/articles/youth-call-for-action-with-climate-strikes
2019-02-21. Slideshow—Student Councils: Help End Climate Silence and Congressional Climate Neglect with A Student Council Resolution. By Schools for Climate Action. [https://schoolsforclimateaction.weebly.com/news/slideshow-student-councils-help-end-climate-silence-and-congressional-climate-neglect-with-a-student-council-resolution 0] See Schools for Climate Action website [https://schoolsforclimateaction.weebly.com].
2019-02-12. Americans are Increasingly “Alarmed” About Global Warming. By Abel Gustafson, Anthony Leiserowitz and Edward Maibach, Yale University. [http://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/americans-are-increasingly-alarmed-about-global-warming/] F Excerpt: Six in ten Americans are now either “Alarmed” or “Concerned” about global warming. From 2013 to 2018, the proportion of “Alarmed” more than doubled….
2019-01-22. Record Numbers of Americans Say They Care About Global Warming, Poll Finds. By John Schwartz, The New York Times.
2018-10-24. Scientists take opposing sides in youth climate trial. By Julia Rosen, Science Magazine. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/22/climate/americans-global-warming-poll.html] Excerpt: A record number of Americans understand that climate change is real, according to a new survey [http://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/climate-change-in-the-american-mind-december-2018/], and they are increasingly worried about its effects in their lives today. Some 73 percent of Americans polled late last year said that global warming was happening, the report found, a jump of 10 percentage points from 2015 and three points since last March. The rise in the number of Americans who say global warming is personally important to them was even sharper, jumping nine percentage points since March to 72 percent, another record over the past decade. The survey is the latest in a series from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. It was conducted online in November and December by Ipsos, which polled 1,114 American adults. The results suggest that climate change has moved out of the realm of the hypothetical for a wide majority of Americans, said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale program….
2018-08-24. Meet the 15-year-old Swedish girl on strike from school for the climate. By Catherine Edwards, The Local. [https://www.thelocal.se/20180824/meet-the-15-year-old-swedish-girl-on-strike-from-school-for-the-climate] F Excerpt: Fifteen-year-old Greta Thunberg describes herself as a “climate radical” and is protesting outside Sweden’s parliament every day until the September election, refusing to attend school and calling on politicians to take climate issues seriously. …Greta said she learned about the effects of climate change mostly at home, and began to get engaged in environmental issues from the age of 11 or 12. …”I have gone to climate demonstrations and things like that before, but this is the first time I’ve organized something myself,” the 15-year-old adds. …The strike has been taking place every schoolday since term began, roughly between the hours of 8.30 and 3.30pm. This means missing three weeks of school in total, so is Greta worried about missing out on the start of the year? “A little bit, but I have my books with me,” she explains, adding that she is making sure to keep up with what her classmates are working on….
2018-08-07. Yale Climate Opinion Maps 2018. By Jennifer Marlon, Peter Howe, Matto Mildenberger, Anthony Leiserowitz and Xinran Wang, Yale Program on Climate Change Education. Excerpt: Interactive maps show how Americans’ climate change beliefs, risk perceptions, and policy support vary at the state, congressional district, metro area, and county levels…. http://climatecommunication.yale.edu/visualizations-data/ycom-us-2018/?est=happening&type=value&geo=county
2018-07-30. California’s Birds Are Testing New Survival Tactics on a Vast Scale. By Wallace Ravven, The New York Times. Excerpt: More than a century ago, zoologist Joseph Grinnell launched a pioneering survey of animal life in California, …to all corners and habitats of the state, from Death Valley to the High Sierra. …Grinnell …produced one of the richest ecological records in the world: 74,000 pages of meticulously detailed field notes, recording the numbers, habits and habitats of all vertebrate species that the team encountered. In 2003, …Morgan Tingley, … an ecology graduate student at the university, …wanted to know how birds had fared since Grinnell last took a census. …Dr. Tingley and his colleagues discovered that most species now nest about a week earlier than they did 70 to 100 years ago. That slight advance in timing translates into nesting temperatures about two degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the birds would encounter had they not moved up their breeding time — almost exactly counterbalancing the two-degree rise in average temperatures recorded over the last century. …Early nesting has been noted in individual bird species, but such a widespread behavioral change over a very large and varied landscape was “not on the radar at all,” said Jacob Socolar, a postdoctoral scientist in Dr. Tingley’s lab. …The study of 202 species showed that most of them are adapting to rising temperatures with “overlooked flexibility,” the scientists reported — unexpected hope for wildlife in an uncertain time. “Does it mean climate change is not bad for you? No,” said Dr. Tingley, now an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut. “But any time we find that a species has more adaptive mechanisms to cope with climate change, that’s a good thing.”….https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/30/science/california-birds-climate-change.html
2018-07-12. Ammonia—a renewable fuel made from sun, air, and water—could power the globe without carbon. By Robert F. Service, Science Magazine. Excerpt: …Australia [is] fertile ground for …vast forests of windmills and solar panels. More sunlight per square meter strikes the country than just about any other, and powerful winds buffet its south and west coasts. …[Douglas] MacFarlane …For the past 4 years… has been working on a fuel cell that can convert renewable electricity into a carbon-free fuel: ammonia. Fuel cells typically use the energy stored in chemical bonds to make electricity; MacFarlane’s operates in reverse. In his third-floor laboratory, he shows off one of the devices, about the size of a hockey puck and clad in stainless steel. Two plastic tubes on its backside feed it nitrogen gas and water, and a power cord supplies electricity. Through a third tube on its front, it silently exhales gaseous ammonia, …. “This is breathing nitrogen in and breathing ammonia out,” MacFarlane says, beaming like a proud father. …By converting renewable electricity into an energy-rich gas that can easily be cooled and squeezed into a liquid fuel, MacFarlane’s fuel cell effectively bottles sunshine and wind, turning them into a commodity that can be shipped anywhere in the world and converted back into electricity or hydrogen gas to power fuel cell vehicles. …environmentally, MacFarlane says, ammonia is as green as can be. “Liquid ammonia is liquid energy,” he says. “It’s the sustainable technology we need.”… http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/07/ammonia-renewable-fuel-made-sun-air-and-water-could-power-globe-without-carbon
2018-04-26. How Oman’s Rocks Could Help Save the Planet. By Henry Fountain, The New York Times. Excerpt: …if this natural process, called carbon mineralization, could be harnessed, accelerated and applied inexpensively on a huge scale — admittedly some very big “ifs” — it could help fight climate change. Rocks could remove some of the billions of tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide that humans have pumped into the air since the beginning of the Industrial Age. And by turning that CO2 into stone, the rocks in Oman — or in a number of other places around the world that have similar geological formations — would ensure that the gas stayed out of the atmosphere forever. …Capturing and storing carbon dioxide is drawing increased interest. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that deploying such technology is essential to efforts to rein in global warming. But the idea has barely caught on: There are fewer than 20 large-scale projects in operation around the world, and they remove CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels at power plants or from other industrial processes and store it as gas underground. What Dr. Kelemen and others have in mind is removing carbon dioxide that is already in the air, to halt or reverse the gradual increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration. Direct-air capture, as it is known, is sometimes described as a form of geoengineering — deliberate manipulation of the climate — although that term is more often reserved for the idea of reducing warming by reflecting more sunlight away from the earth…. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/04/26/climate/oman-rocks.html
2018-03-29. Scientists say we’re on the cusp of a carbon dioxide–recycling revolution. By Matt Warren, Science. Excerpt: Every year, the billions of metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) we release into the atmosphere add to the growing threat of climate change. But what if we could simply recycle all that wasted CO2 and turn it into something useful? By adding electricity, water, and a variety of catalysts, scientists can reduce CO2 into short molecules such as carbon monoxide and methane, which they can then combine to form more complex hydrocarbon fuels like butane. Now, researchers think we could be on the cusp of a CO2-recycling revolution, which would capture CO2 from power plants—and maybe even directly from the atmosphere—and convert it into these fuels at scale, they report today in Joule. Science talked with one of the study’s authors, materials scientists and graduate student Phil De Luna at the University of Toronto in Canada, about how CO2 recycling works—and what the future holds for these technologies. This interview has been edited for clarity and length. …Q: How does this technology convert CO2 into fuel? A: [It’s] kind of like a reverse fuel cell. There’s a cathode and an anode; at the anode, water is split into protons and oxygen gas, and at the cathode, CO2 is electrochemically reduced to other value-added chemicals, such as carbon monoxide, methane, ethylene. So you are feeding CO2 protons and electrons [from the water and the electricity], and you are electrochemically reducing them…. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/03/scientists-say-we-re-cusp-carbon-dioxide-recycling-revolution
2018-03-06. A Secret Superpower, Right in Your Backyard. By Kendra Pierre-Louis, The New York Times. Excerpt: As the verdant hills of Wakanda are secretly enriched with the fictional metal vibranium in “Black Panther,” your average backyard also has hidden superpowers: Its soil can absorb and store a significant amount of carbon from the air, unexpectedly making such green spaces an important asset in the battle against climate change. Backyard soils can lock in more planet-warming carbon emissions than soils found in native grasslands or urban forests like arboretums, according to Carly Ziter, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The results of her research, published Tuesday in the journal Ecological Applications, were something of a surprise, given that those of us who have yards generally don’t think of them as “nature,” or as especially beneficial to the environment. But at least in this case, the things we enjoy for ourselves are also helping the community at large…. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/06/climate/yard-garden-global-warming.html
2018-02-05. No Children Because of Climate Change? Some People Are Considering It. By Maggie Astor, The New York Times. Excerpt: It is not an easy time for people to feel hopeful, with the effects of global warming no longer theoretical, projections becoming more dire and governmental action lagging. And while few, if any, studies have examined how large a role climate change plays in people’s childbearing decisions, it loomed large in interviews with more than a dozen people ages 18 to 43. …there is a sense of being saddled with painful ethical questions that previous generations did not have to confront. Some worry about the quality of life children born today will have as shorelines flood, wildfires rage and extreme weather becomes more common. Others are acutely aware that having a child is one of the costliest actions they can take environmentally. … Cate Mumford, 28, is a Mormon, and Mormons believe God has commanded them to “multiply and replenish the earth.” But even in her teens, she said, she could not get another point of doctrine out of her head: “We are stewards of the earth.”… https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/05/climate/climate-change-children.html
2018-01-01. Fighting Climate Change, One Laundry Load at a Time. By Stanley Reed, The New York Times. Excerpt: COPENHAGEN — A Danish biotechnology company is trying to fight climate change — one laundry load at a time. Its secret weapon: mushrooms like those in a dormant forest outside Copenhagen. …Enzymes are also well suited to helping cut energy consumption. They are often found in relatively cool environments, like forests and oceans. As a result of that low natural temperature, they do not require the heat and pressure typically used in washing machines and other laundry processes. …So consumers can reduce the temperatures on their washing machines while ensuring their shirts stay lily white. Lowering the temperature on a washing machine cycle to cold water from 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) reduces energy consumption by at least half, according to the International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products, an industry group…. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/01/business/energy-environment/climate-change-enzymes-laundry.html
2017-11. Climate Change Is Complex. We’ve Got Answers to Your Questions. By Justin Gillis, The New York Times. Excerpt: We know. Global warming is daunting. So here’s a place to start: 17 often-asked questions with some straightforward answers…. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/climate/what-is-climate-change.html
2017-10-02. G.M. and Ford Lay Out Plans to Expand Electric Models. By Bill Vlasic and Neal E. Boudette, The New York Times. Excerpt: DETROIT — China has said it will eventually ban gasoline-powered cars. California may be moving in the same direction. That pressure has set off a scramble by the world’s car companies to embrace electric vehicles. On Monday, General Motors, America’s largest automaker, … announced plans for 20 new all-electric models by 2023, including two within the next 18 months. …after the G.M. news emerged, Ford let loose with its own announcement, saying it would add 13 electrified models over the next several years, with a five-year investment of $4.5 billion. “General Motors believes in an all-electric future,” said Mark L. Reuss, G.M.’s global product chief. “Although that future won’t happen overnight, G.M. is committed to driving increased usage and acceptance of electric vehicles.” …it is regulatory pressure that is revving up the electric push, with officials in China, Europe and the United States ratcheting up emissions standards and setting or discussing deadlines that could eliminate gasoline-powered cars within a generation. The announcements by G.M. and Ford follow pledges by the German automakers Volkswagen and Daimler to build hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles in the coming years, and the decision by Volvo, the Chinese-owned Swedish luxury brand, to convert its entire lineup to either electric cars or hybrid vehicles that are powered by both batteries and gas. The accelerated pace of development also reflects the symbiotic relationship between battery-powered cars and another technological frontier; auto companies are tying their electric-car plans to lofty goals of building fleets of autonomous vehicles for ride-hailing services. The automakers believe they can solve the problem of achieving — as G.M.’s chief executive, Mary T. Barra, has begun stressing — a world with “zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion.” …By 2020, Ford plans to produce an electric car that can go 300 miles before needing to recharge…. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/02/business/general-motors-electric-cars.html
2017-08-23. Cyborg bacteria turn sunlight into useful chemicals. By Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley News. Excerpt: …To help humans capture more of the sun’s energy than natural photosynthesis can, UC Berkeley scientists have taught bacteria to cover themselves in tiny, highly efficient solar panels to produce useful chemical compounds. Chemistry Professor Peidong Yang and Kelsey Sakimoto, a former graduate student now at Harvard University, worked with a naturally occurring, nonphotosynthetic bacterium, Moorella thermoacetica, which, as part of its normal respiration, produces acetic acid from carbon dioxide. They fed the bacteria chemicals that made them construct their own solar collectors, which were able to capture about 80 percent of sunlight’s energy to make acetic acid. This is about four times more efficient than natural photosynthesis using chlorophyll, which captures sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into starch. Acetic acid is a versatile chemical that can be readily upgraded to a number of fuels, polymers, pharmaceuticals and commodity chemicals through complementary, genetically engineered bacteria. “Rather than rely on inefficient chlorophyll to harvest sunlight, I’ve taught bacteria how to grow and cover their bodies with tiny semiconductor nanocrystals,” Sakimoto said. “These nanocrystals are much more efficient than chlorophyll and can be grown at a fraction of the cost of manufactured solar panels.” The process is self-replicating and self-regenerating, making this a zero-waste technology. “Synthetic biology and the ability to expand the product scope of CO2 reduction will be crucial to poising this technology as a replacement, or one of many replacements, for the petrochemical industry,” he said…. http://news.berkeley.edu/story_jump/cyborg-bacteria-turn-sunlight-into-useful-compounds/ 0 See also American Chemical Society video – https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/newsreleases/2017/august/cyborg-bacteria-outperform-plants-when-turning-sunlight-into-useful-compounds-video.html
2017-08-09. Preventing Climate Change by Increasing Ocean Alkalinity. By Phil Renforthon, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: The oceans contain more carbon than soils, plants, animals and the atmosphere combined. Every cubic meter of seawater contains about 120 grams of negatively charged bicarbonate ions, which are balanced with positive ions such as calcium and magnesium. This carbon pool was created naturally over millions of years by mineral weathering. A recent review article published in Reviews of Geophysics explores the possibility of accelerating weathering processes to increase bicarbonate ions in the ocean, and thus prevent climate change and potentially ameliorate ocean acidification. The editors asked one of the authors some questions about the scientific basis for this idea and how it might work in practice…. https://eos.org/editors-vox/preventing-climate-change-by-increasing-ocean-alkalinity
2017-08-03. Climate policies study shows Inland Empire economic boon. By Jacqueline Sullivan, UC Berkeley News. Excerpt: According to the first comprehensive study of the economic effects of climate programs in California’s Inland Empire, Riverside and San Bernardino counties experienced a net benefit of $9.1 billion in direct economic activity and 41,000 jobs from 2010 through 2016. Researchers at UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education and the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment at Berkeley Law report that many of the se jobs were created by one-time construction investments associated with building renewable energy power plants. These investments, they say, helped rekindle the construction industry, which experienced major losses during the Great Recession. When accounting for the spillover effects, the researchers report in their study commissioned by nonpartisan, nonprofit group Next 10, that state climate policies resulted in a total of $14.2 billion in economic activity and more than 73,000 jobs for the region during the same seven years. …Next 10 commissioned the UC Berkeley researchers to look at four key California climate and clean energy policies: Cap and trade, which requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gas emissions; the renewables portfolio standard, which requires 50 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030; rooftop solar policies; and investor-owned utilities energy efficiency programs…. http://news.berkeley.edu/2017/08/03/climate-policies-study-shows-inland-empire-economic-boon/
2017-06-04. Climate Science Meets a Stubborn Obstacle: Students. By Amy Harmon, The New York Times. Excerpt: …When the teacher, James Sutter, ascribed the recent warming of the Earth to heat-trapping gases released by burning fossil fuels like the coal her father had once mined, she asserted that it could be a result of other, natural causes. When he described the flooding, droughts and fierce storms that scientists predict within the century if such carbon emissions are not sharply reduced, she challenged him to prove it. “Scientists are wrong all the time,” she said with a shrug, echoing those celebrating President Trump’s announcement last week that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord. …the day she grew so agitated by a documentary he was showing that she bolted out of the school left them both shaken. …As more of the nation’s teachers seek to integrate climate science into the curriculum, many of them are reckoning with students for whom suspicion of the subject is deeply rooted. In rural Wellston, a former coal and manufacturing town seeking its next act, rejecting the key findings of climate science can seem like a matter of loyalty to a way of life already under siege. Originally tied, perhaps, to economic self-interest, climate skepticism has itself become a proxy for conservative ideals of hard work, small government and what people here call “self-sustainability.” …But public-school science classrooms are also proving to be a rare place where views on climate change may shift, research has found. There, in contrast with much of adult life, it can be hard to entirely tune out new information. “Adolescents are still heavily influenced by their parents, but they’re also figuring themselves out,” said Kathryn Stevenson, a researcher at North Carolina State University who studies climate literacy…. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/04/us/education-climate-change-science-class-students.html
See also the follow-up article at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/05/insider/high-school-climate-change-skeptics.html
2017-05-24. Scientists really aren’t the best champions of climate science. By Vox and the Climate Lab of the University of California. Video #3 in a series: Facts and data alone won’t inspire people to take action in the fight against global warming. So what will? …. https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/climate-lab
2017-05-17. The fight to rethink (and reinvent) nuclear power. By Vox and the Climate Lab of the University of California. Video #5 in a series: New nuclear energy technology has come a long way – but can we get over our fears?…. https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/climate-lab
2017-05-10. Food waste is the world’s dumbest problem. By Vox and the Climate Lab of the University of California. Video #4 in a series: Eat your peas! It’s the easiest way to fight climate change….. https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/climate-lab
2017-05-03. Why your old phones collect in a junk drawer of sadness. By Vox and the Climate Lab of the University of California. Video #3 in a series: Smartphones shouldn’t be so disposable. Could fixing the way we make our phones help solve climate change? https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/climate-lab
2017-05-02. The Solutions Project. The Solutions Project is dedicated to achieving 100% renewable energy worldwide. A world powered by the wind, water, and sun is not only possible – it’s already happening…. http://www.thesolutionsproject.org/
Introduction to The Solutions Project (graphic)
Power Demand by Generator (graphic)
Scientific American article by Mark Jacobson
National Geographic: A Blueprint for a Carbon-Free World
Companies committed to 100% renewable power – http://re100.org/
2017-05-02. Drawdown. “Drawdown” book and website presents an extensive array of impactful “no regrets” solutions—actions that make sense to take regardless of their climate impact since they have intrinsic benefits to communities and economies, improving lives, creating jobs, restoring the environment, enhancing security, generating resilience, and advancing human health. In the book, each solution is measured and modeled to determine its carbon impact through the year 2050, the total and net cost to society, and the total lifetime savings (or cost)…. http://www.drawdown.org/solutions
2017-04-27. Climate Change’s Pulse Is in Central America and the Caribbean. By J. E. González, M. Georgescu, M. C. Lemos, N. Hosannah, and D. Niyogi, Earth & Space News (EOS; AGU). Excerpt: Nations that border the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea are ideally placed for tracking the effects of global climate change and testing innovative ways to adapt to future changes. …The global trend of increasing sea surface temperatures, for example, may work with or against natural modes of climate variability in the region, highlighting the physical system’s complexity and nonlinear nature. Hand in hand with these physical changes are the hazards they pose to people. More than 120 million people live in the area. Despite steady, albeit inequitable, economic growth during recent decades, the region has become increasingly exposed to climate-related pressures that threaten its social and economic well-being. The region’s extensive coastlines, relatively low capacity to adapt to changing conditions, scarce natural resources, and limited infrastructure further intensify the perception of risk … https://eos.org/opinions/climate-changes-pulse-is-in-central-america-and-the-caribbean
2017-04-26. Going green shouldn’t be this hard. By Vox and the Climate Lab of the University of California. Video #2 in a series: Going green does not need to be a sacrifice, either for us as individuals or for businesses, governments and the economy…. https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/climate-lab
2017-04-19. Why humans are so bad at thinking about climate change. By Vox and the Climate Lab of the University of California. Video #1 in a series: The biggest problem for the climate change fight isn’t technology – it’s human psychology…. https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/climate-lab
2017-01-28. In America’s Heartland, Discussing Climate Change Without Saying ‘Climate Change’. By Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times. Excerpt: GLEN ELDER, Kan. — Doug Palen, a fourth-generation grain farmer on Kansas’ wind-swept plains, is in the business of understanding the climate. Since 2012, he has choked through the harshest drought to hit the Great Plains in a century, punctuated by freakish snowstorms and suffocating gales of dust. His planting season starts earlier in the spring and pushes deeper into winter. To adapt, he has embraced an environmentally conscious way of farming that guards against soil erosion and conserves precious water. He can talk for hours about carbon sequestration — the trapping of global-warming-causing gases in plant life and in the soil — or the science of the beneficial microbes that enrich his land. In short, he is a climate change realist. Just don’t expect him to utter the words “climate change.” “If politicians want to exhaust themselves debating the climate, that’s their choice,” Mr. Palen said, walking through fields of freshly planted winter wheat. “I have a farm to run.” …The climate has not always been such a partisan issue. Richard Nixon, a Republican president, set up the Environmental Protection Agency and signed the Clean Air Act. Ronald Reagan ushered in the Montreal Protocol, the first global treaty to protect the global atmosphere. Much of that consensus has broken down, in no small part because of a well-financed push by fossil-fuel interests, together with influential Republican allies, to attack well-established research on topics like global warming and push back on environmental regulation. …Still, “it would be a huge mistake to think people voting for Trump were voting against the environment,” Ms. Horn said. If Trump follows an aggressive anti-environment agenda, she said, “there will be a big backlash in the heartland.” …Carl Priesendorf, a science teacher at Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City, Mo., has learned strategies to talk about climate change without completely alienating climate skeptics. He teaches geology and meteorology. Those subjects would usually be innocuous, but not here. “I’d show the CO2 data — how we’d had the hottest year on record,” Mr. Priesendorf said. “But I get students who basically say what I’m teaching is nonsense. My car’s been keyed. I get notes from students saying they’re praying for my soul.” One such note that he shared reads, “Know that God’s love surpasses knowledge.”… https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/28/business/energy-environment/navigating-climate-change-in-americas-heartland.html
2017-01-17. On Climate Change, Even States in Forefront Are Falling Short.. By Eduardo Porter, The New York Times. Excerpt: …for all the pluck of the Golden State’s politicians, California is far from providing the leadership needed in the battle against climate change. Distracted by the competing objective of shuttering nuclear plants that still produce over a fifth of its zero-carbon power, the state risks failing the main environmental challenge of our time. …even a state like New York still has work to do. An analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers argued that to ensure that the global temperature does not rise more than 3.6 degrees above its preindustrial average, which world leaders have agreed is the tolerable limit, the carbon intensity of the global economy must decline 6.3 percent per year between now and 2030. The United States must decarbonize at an annual rate of 4.3 percent under that timetable. But over the last decade and a half, only North Dakota and the District of Columbia have achieved this pace. New York is decarbonizing at about 3 percent per year, California at barely above 2 percent. …Nuclear energy cannot compete with natural gas at current prices, of course. But its woes aren’t just about economics. Incorporating the climate costs imposed by fossil fuels would sharply increase the cost of gas generation. But rather than level the playing field, policy makers mostly squeeze nuclear generation further. There’s a reason for that: Alarmed by the prospect of nuclear meltdowns and the potential damage to ecosystems and human health, voters remain decidedly against nuclear reactors. Still, if combating climate change is an imperative, nuclear power and its risks must get a more careful assessment. Climate change will be hard to stop without it…. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/17/business/economy/climate-change-california-new-york.html
2017-01-12. Understanding How Climate Engineering Can Offset Climate Change. By Ben Kravitz, Alan Robock, and Jón Egill Kr istjánsson, Eos, Earth & Space Science News, AGU. Excerpt: Climate intervention, also called geoengineering or climate engineering, is an emerging, important area of climate science research. This research focuses on deliberate climate modification to offset some of the effects of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. The Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project (GeoMIP) was formed to better understand climate intervention through simulations conducted by multiple climate models. GeoMIP held its sixth annual meeting at the University of Oslo in Oslo, Norway, in June 2016. The meeting was held in conjunction with the Norwegian project Exploring the Potential and Side Effects of Climate Engineering (EXPECT), which seeks to understand the implications of climate intervention and to stimulate interdisciplinary collaboration among scientists in the natural and social sciences. Participants from a variety of natural science backgrounds presented modeling results from multiple climate intervention methods, including stratospheric aerosols, marine cloud brightening, cirrus thinning, and land and ocean brightening. The first results from multimodel sea spray climate intervention simulations showed strong features of commonality among the responses of different models…. https://eos.org/meeting-reports/understanding-how-climate-engineering-can-offset-climate-change
2016-12-20. Climate Change Skepticism Fueled by Gut Reaction to Local Weather. By Scott Waldman, ClimateWire, reprinted by Scientific American. Excerpt: If it’s hot outside, you’re more likely to believe in climate change. The public perception of climate change is shaped by the weather that people experience, according to a study published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal. People who live in areas where high temperature records are broken are more likely to believe in global warming than those who do not. In areas that experienced record lows, people were less inclined to believe in the mainstream climate science that shows human activity is warming the Earth. People see climate change through a local lens, said Robert Kaufmann, the study’s lead author and director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Studies at Boston University. …“When personal experience and expert opinion don’t align on a topic that’s not critical to an individual’s well-being, they’re going to go with their gut rather than what the expert tells them,” Kaufmann said. Researchers noted that the discrepancy resulted from the public’s equating of weather with climate, which many assume are the same. …A majority of Americans favor political action on global warming, despite the presidential victory of Donald Trump, who questions climate science, the survey found. It shows that almost two-thirds of registered voters across all parties want the Trump administration and Congress to do more to address global warming. Almost three-quarters of Republicans and about 90 percent of Democrats want corporations to do more on climate change…. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/climate-change-skepticism-fueled-by-gut-reaction-to-local-weather/
2016-11-18. They may save us yet: Scientists found a way to turn our carbon emissions into rock. By Chris Mooney, The New York Times. Excerpt: Earlier this year, a project in Iceland reported an apparent breakthrough in the safe underground storage of the principal greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide — an option likely to be necessary if we’re to solve our global warming problem. The Carbfix project, run by a leading Icelandic producer of geothermal power, Reykjavik Energy, announced that it had successfully injected 250 tons of carbon dioxide, dissolved in water, into an underground repository of volcanic rocks called basalts — and that the carbon carbon dioxide …had apparently become one with the basalt, undergoing a fast chemical reaction and forming a type of rock called a carbonate in two years’ time. …And now, a group of American researchers has taken the science even farther…. Peter McGrail of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a branch of the Department of Energy, and his colleagues were also working on storing carbon dioxide …an actual injection, in this case 1253 meters deep into basalts from the Columbia River region of Washington State. In their results reported Friday in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, …after two years had passed, they took core samples of the rocks, using a battery of tests to prove definitively that the CO2 had indeed turned into a carbonate rock called ankerite, comprised of calcium, carbon, oxygen, iron, magnesium, and manganese. …they looked at the ratio of two “isotopes,” or slight variants, of carbon to one another. …showing a signature that matched up with the fossil fuel-based carbon dioxide that had originally been pumped into the earth. “There is no other possible explanation,” said McGrail. “The only way that those carbonates had formed, it had to come from the CO2 that we injected.”…. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/11/18/they-may-save-us-yet-scientists-found-a-way-to-turn-our-carbon-emissions-into-rock/
2016-11-21. Largest Ever U.S. Shale Oil Deposit Identified in Texas. By Aaron Sidder, Earth & Space News (EoS), AGU. Excerpt: As global oil prices remain mired in their worst downturn in decades, news from western Texas suggests that petroleum fortunes continue to smile on the region. In its first assessment in nearly a decade of the Permian Basin, a large sedimentary basin underlying parts of Texas and New Mexico, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has determined that a vast deposit of shale there, known as the Wolfcamp shale, contains much more oil than previously estimated. …the region contains what is estimated to be the largest amount of continuous oil—meaning oil accessible only by means of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking—ever assessed in the United States. The agency estimated the Wolfcamp shale contains 20 billion barrels (3.2 billion cubic meters) of oil that can be recovered using today’s technology. That’s nearly 3 times as much recoverable oil as estimated in the Bakken–Three Forks accumulation in North Dakota. …unconventional continuous oil accumulations commonly occur in shale reservoirs or coal beds. In these accumulations, the oil has dispersed throughout the geologic formation. …The Wolfcamp shale also contains an estimated 16 trillion cubic feet (453 billion cubic meters) of associated natural gas and 1.6 billion barrels (245 million cubic meters) of natural gas liquids, according to USGS. …In a statement to Eos, the Permian Basin Petroleum Association commented that the USGS estimate was exciting but was more of a confirmation than a new story. …“The fact that this is the largest assessment of continuous oil we have ever done just goes to show that, even in areas that have produced billions of barrels of oil, there is still the potential to find billions more.” The USGS assessment, although large, may not capture the full extent of the Wolfcamp resource. Because well production data inform so much of the estimate, the estimated resource could grow even larger in time as new wells provide more data, Schenk said…. https://eos.org/articles/largest-ever-u-s-shale-oil-deposit-id entified-in-texas
2016-09-26. How Small Forests Can Help Save the Planet. By Erica Goode, The New York Times. Excerpt: BIRKENFELD, Ore. — Eve Lonnquist’s family has owned a forest in the mountains of northwest Oregon since her grandmother bought the land in 1919. …lately, Ms. Lonnquist, 59 and recently retired, has been thinking about the future of her family’s land. Like many small-forest owners, they draw some income from logging and would like to keep doing so. But they would also like to see the forest, with its stands of Douglas fir, alder and cherry, protected from clear-cutting or being sold off to developers. …More than half of the 751 million acres of forestland in the United States are privately owned, most by people like Ms. Lonnquist, with holdings of 1,000 acres or less. These family forests, environmental groups argue, represent a large, untapped resource for combating the effects of climate change. Conserving the trees and profiting from them might seem incompatible. But Ms. Lonnquist is hoping to do both by capitalizing on the forest’s ability to clean the air, turning the carbon stored in the forest into credits that can then be sold to polluters who want or need to offset their carbon footprints. …Larger forests around the world have already been enlisted as carbon storehouses, through programs like the United Nations initiative for Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD…. Some large timber companies, including Potlatch, have also entered the markets, reducing their logging to levels below legal limits in order to receive millions of dollars in credits. …But so far, small-forest owners, even conservation-minded ones like Ms. Lonnquist, have not rushed to embrace market-based carbon storage. Many do not even know it exists, and those who do often find the complexities bewildering…. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/27/science/private-forests-global-warming.html
2016-06-10. Underground injections turn carbon dioxide to stone. By Eli Kintisch, Science. Excerpt: Researchers working in Iceland say they have discovered a new way to trap the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) deep underground: by changing it into rock. Results published this week in Science show that injecting CO2 into volcanic rocks triggers a reaction that rapidly forms new carbonate minerals—potentially locking up the gas forever. The technique has to clear some high hurdles to become commercially viable. …unlike sandstone, the basalt contains metals that react with CO2, forming carbonate minerals such as calcite—a process known as carbonation. But they thought the process might take many years. To find out, they launched the CarbFix experiment 25 kilometers east of Reykjavik, intending to dose Iceland’s abundant underground basalt with CO2 that bubbles from cooling magma underground and is collected at a nearby geothermal power plant. In 2012, the researchers injected 220 tons of CO2—spiked with heavy carbon for monitoring—into layers of basalt between 400 and 800 meters below the surface. …What happened next startled the team. After about a year and a half, the pump inside a monitoring well kept breaking down. Frustrated, engineers hauled up the pump and found that it was coated with white and green scale. Tests identified it as calcite, bearing the heavy carbon tracer that marked it as a product of carbonation. Measurements of dissolved carbon in the groundwater suggested that more than 95% of the injected carbon had already been converted into calcite and other minerals. … http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/06/underground-injections-turn-carbon-dioxide-stone
2016-05-19. As U.S. moves to cut greenhouse emissions from farms, new study finds big global challenge. By Virginia Gewin, Patrick Monahan, Science. Excerpt: From cow burps to decaying food waste, agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Researchers estimate farms are responsible for about 13% of total global emissions, making it the world’s second-largest source, after energy production. And now that nations have committed to trying to hold global warming to no more than 2°C above preindustrial levels, researchers and policymakers are looking for practical ways to cut agriculture’s contribution to climate change. Two recent developments could inform that search. Last week, officials in the United States—one of the world’s largest sources of agricultural products—released a progress report on U.S. efforts to promote “climate smart” agriculture. And this week, an international research team published a study that highlights the big changes in farm technology and human behavior that will be needed to achieve the worldwide farm-related cuts necessary to stay below the 2°C threshold…. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/05/us-moves-cut-greenhouse-emissions-farms-new-study-finds-big-global-challenge
2016-04-28. NASA Climate Blog entry: We’re over being bummed about climate change and ready for solutions. By Laura – interviewing Susan Hassol. http://climate.nasa.gov/blog/2438 [Comment from GSS Director, Alan Gould: While it’s important to understand causes and effects of the climate change we are experiencing, it’s far more important to understand the even larger context of the root causes of the problem and, by implication, the obvious solutions. The GSS curriculum materials explore two avenues of solutions: (1) in Energy Use, the devastating side effects of our fossil fuel based energy systems that include air pollution, climate change, economic instability, and threats to national security to name a few, and (2) Population Growth, in which it becomes obvious that all these problems would not exist without an excessively burgeoning human population on our planet. When I say obvious solutions, my current thinking is advancing sustainable energy systems such as solar panel arrays, wind generators, biofuels, geothermal energy, and hydro-energy systems based on rivers, ocean tides and waves. For population growth, the obvious solutions are ways to control or stop human population growth, one important aspect of which is education for women (and men).]
2016-04-05. Promising Signs That Economies Can Rise as Carbon Emissions Decline. By Coral Davenport, The New York Times. Excerpt: Throughout the 20th century, the global economy was fueled by burning coal to run factories and power plants, and burning oil to move planes, trains and automobiles. The more coal and oil countries burned — and the more planet-warming carbon dioxide they emitted — the higher the economic growth. And so it seemed logical that any policy to reduce emissions would also push countries into economic decline. Now there are signs that G.D.P. growth and carbon emissions need not rise in tandem, and that the era of decoupling could be starting. Last year, for the first time in the 40 years since both metrics have been recorded, global G.D.P. grew but global carbon emissions leveled off. Economists got excited, but they also acknowledged that it could have been an anomalous blip…. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/06/upshot/promising-signs-that-economies-can-rise-as-carbon-emissions-decline.html
2016-02-08. What the Earth will be like in 10,000 years, according to scientists. By Chris Mooney, Washington Post. Excerpt: A large group of climate scientists has made a bracing statement in the journal Nature Climate Change, arguing that we are mistaken if we think global warming is onl y a matter of the next 100 years or so — in fact, they say, we are locking in changes that will play out over as many as 10,000 years. “The next few decades offer a brief window of opportunity to minimize large-scale and potentially catastrophic climate change that will extend longer than the entire history of human civilization thus far,” write the 22 climate researchers, led by Peter Clark, from Oregon State University. …“In hundreds of years from now, people will look back and say, ‘Yeah, the sea level is rising; it will continue to rise; we live with a constant rise of sea level because of these people 200 years ago that used coal, and oil and gas,’ ” said Anders Levermann, a sea-level-rise expert at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and one of the paper’s authors. “If you just look at this, it’s stunning that we can make such a long-lasting impact that has the same magnitude as the ice ages.” The key reason for this is that carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for a very long time before being slowly removed again by natural processes. “A considerable fraction of the carbon emitted to date and in the next 100 years will remain in the atmosphere for tens to hundreds of thousands of years,” the study noted. …In 10,000 years, if we totally let it rip, the planet could ultimately be an astonishing 7 degrees Celsius warmer on average and feature seas 52 meters (170 feet) higher than they are now, the paper suggests. There would be almost no mountain glaciers left in temperate latitudes, Greenland would give up all of its ice…. Still, anyone observing the world’s recent mobilization to address climate change in Paris in late 2015 would reasonably question whether humanity will indeed emit this much carbon…. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/02/08/what-the-earth-will-be-like-in-10000-years-according-to-scientists/
2015-11-28. Short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change. By Justin Gillis, The New York Times. Excerpt: And so, as the Paris climate talks get underway, we’ve provided quick answers to often-asked questions about climate change…. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/11/28/science/what-is-climate-change.html
2015-11-06. Fact Sheet: Jobs in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (2015). Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI). Excerpt: …The Ecotech Institute used the Bureau of Labor Statistics definition of a green job to calculate the number of clean job openings in 2014. The organization found a 13 percent increase in clean job openings from 2013 to 2014, from 3.6 million clean job openings in 2013 to 3.8 million openings in 2014. The institute estimates that there were 1.2 million clean job openings in the first three months of 2015…. http://www.eesi.org/papers/view/fact-sheet-jobs-in-renewable-energy-and-energy-efficiency-2015
August 2015. ENERGY DARWINISM II Why a Low Carbon Future Doesn’t Have to Cost the Earth. Citigroup Inc.
Citigroup Inc. A new report from Citibank states that investing in low-carbon energy would save the world $1.8 trillion through 2040. Not acting will cost $44 trillion by 2060 from the “negative effects” of climate change. Here are two quotes from the report, Energy Darwinism:
- “We believe that that solution does exist. …The incremental costs of following a low carbon path are in context limited and seem affordable, the ‘return’ on that investment is acceptable and moreover the likely avoided liabilities are enormous. Given that all things being equal cleaner air has to be preferable to pollution, a very strong ‘Why would you not?’ argument begins to develop.”
- “Overall, we find that the incremental costs of action are limited (and indeed ultimately lead to savings), offer reasonable returns on investment, and should not have too detrimental an effect on global growth….”
Implementing renewable energy sources and improving efficiency would very likely boost the global economy. The report also addresses the cost of stranded assets, i.e. to prevent 2ºC of warming, a third of the world’s oil reserves, half of its gas reserves, and more than 80 percent of its coal reserves need to stay in the ground, or be used at a dramatically reduced rate.
2015-08-05. US Carbon Pollution From Power Plants Hits 27-Year Low. The Associated Press, The New York Times. Excerpt: Heat-trapping pollution from U.S. power plants hit a 27-year low in April, the Department of Energy announced Wednesday. A big factor was the long-term shift from coal to cleaner and cheaper natural gas, said Energy Department economist Allen McFarland. Outside experts also credit more renewable fuel use and energy efficiency…. http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/08/05/science/ap-us-sci-carbon-pollution.html
2015-06-05. American Geoscience Institute’s (AGI) Critical Issues Program. American Geoscience Institute. AGI’s Critical Issues Program provides introductory information on issues at the intersection of geoscience and society, including energy, climate, water, natural hazards, and mineral resources…. http://www.americangeosciences.org/critical-issues/
2015-02-10. A Biofuel Debate: Will Cutting Trees Cut Carbon?. By Eduardo Porter, The New York Times. Excerpt: Does combating climate change require burning the world’s forests and crops for fuel? …While biofuels account for only about 2.5 percent today, the European Union expects renewable energy — mostly biofuels — to account for 10 percent of its transportation fuel by 2020. In the United States, the biofuel goal is about 12 percent by early in the next decade. …The reasons for such ambitions are clear: It is nearly impossible under current technology to run cars, trucks, ships and jet planes on energy generated from wind or sun. …There is a big problem with this strategy, though. …“Dedicating land to bioenergy always comes at a cost because that land cannot produce plants for other purposes,” said Timothy Searchinger, a researcher at Princeton and the World Resources Institute and a co-writer of a recent report that calls for a rollback of crops dedicated to biofuels. In a nutshell, says Mr. Searchinger, the energy from forests and fields is not, in fact, carbon-free…. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/11/business/economy/a-biofuel-debate-will-cutting-trees-cut-carbon.html.
2015-02-09. Electricity from biomass with carbon capture could make western U.S. carbon-negative. By Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley News Center. Excerpt: Generating electricity from biomass, such as urban waste and sustainably-sourced forest and crop residues, is one strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, because it is carbon-neutral: it produces as much carbon as the plants suck out of the atmosphere. …A new UC Berkeley study shows that if biomass electricity production is combined with carbon capture and sequestration in the western United States, power generators could actually store more carbon than they emit and make a critical contribution to an overall zero-carbon future by the second half of the 21st century…. http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2015/02/09/electricity-from-biomass-with-carbon-capture-could-make-western-u-s-carbon-negative/.
2015-01-08. The geographical distribution of fossil fuels unused when limiting global warming to 2 °C. By Christophe McGlade & Paul Ekins, Nature. Excerpt: Policy makers have generally agreed that the average global temperature rise caused by greenhouse gas emissions should not exceed 2 °C above the average global temperature of pre-industrial times. It has been estimated that to have at least a 50 per cent chance of keeping warming below 2 °C throughout the twenty-first century, the cumulative carbon emissions between 2011 and 2050 need to be limited to around 1,100 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (Gt CO2). However, the greenhouse gas emissions contained in present estimates of global fossil fuel reserves are around three times higher than this, and so the unabated use of all current fossil fuel reserves is incompatible with a warming limit of 2 °C. …Our results suggest that, globally, a third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and over 80 per cent of current coal reserves should remain unused from 2010 to 2050 in order to meet the target of 2 °C. …Our results show that policy makers’ instincts to exploit rapidly and completely their territorial fossil fuels are, in aggregate, inconsistent with their commitments to this temperature limit. Implementation of this policy commitment would also render unnecessary continued substantial expenditure on fossil fuel exploration, because any new discoveries could not lead to increased aggregate production…. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v517/n7533/full/nature14016.html. See also National Geographic article: Climate Mission Impossible: Scientists Say Fossil Fuels Must Go Untapped
2014-12-23. Restored Forests Breathe Life Into Efforts Against Climate Change. By Justin Gillis, The New York Times. Excerpt: LA VIRGEN, Costa Rica — …this small country chopped down a majority of its ancient forests. But after a huge conservation push and a wave of forest regrowth, trees now blanket more than half of Costa Rica. Far to the south, the Amazon forest was once being quickly cleared to make way for farming, but Brazil has slowed the loss so much that it has done more than any other country to limit the emissions leading to global warming. And on the other side of the world, in Indonesia, bold new promises have been made in the past few months to halt the rampant cutting of that country’s forests, backed by business interests with the clout to make it happen. In the battle to limit the risks of climate change, it has been clear for decades that focusing on the world’s immense tropical forests — saving the ones that are left, and perhaps letting new ones grow — is the single most promising near-term strategy. That is because of the large role that forests play in what is called the carbon cycle of the planet. Trees pull the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, out of the air and lock the carbon away in their wood and in the soil beneath them. Destroying them, typically by burning, pumps much of the carbon back into the air, contributing to climate change…. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/24/science/earth/restored-forests-are-making-inroads-against-climate-change-.html. Also for A New World View chapter 5, Population Growth chapter 5, and Ecosystem Change chapter 1.
2014-11-24. Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventional Fuels. By Diane Cardwell, The New York Times. Excerpt: For the solar and wind industries in the United States, it has been a long-held dream: to produce energy at a cost equal to conventional sources like coal and natural gas. That day appears to be dawning. The cost of providing electricity from wind and solar power plants has plummeted over the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas. …In Texas, Austin Energy signed a deal this spring for 20 years of output from a solar farm at l ess than 5 cents a kilowatt-hour. …According to a study by the investment banking firm Lazard, the cost of utility-scale solar energy is as low as 5.6 cents a kilowatt-hour, and wind is as low as 1.4 cents. In comparison, natural gas comes at 6.1 cents a kilowatt-hour on the low end and coal at 6.6 cents. Without subsidies, the firm’s analysis shows, solar costs about 7.2 cents a kilowatt-hour at the low end, with wind at 3.7 cents…. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/24/business/energy-environment/solar-and-wind-energy-start-to-win-on-price-vs-conventional-fuels.html.
2014-09-21. Rockefellers, Heirs to an Oil Fortune, Will Divest Charity of Fossil Fuels. Excerpt: John D. Rockefeller built a vast fortune on oil. Now his heirs are abandoning fossil fuels. The family whose legendary wealth flowed from Standard Oil is planning to announce on Monday that its $860 million philanthropic organization, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, is joining the divestment movement [http://gofossilfree.org/] that began a couple years ago on college campuses. The announcement, timed to precede Tuesday’s opening of the United Nations climate change summit meeting in New York City, is part of a broader and accelerating initiative. [See also Taking a Call for Climate Change to the Streets.] In recent years, 180 institutions — including philanthropies, religious organizations, pension funds and local governments — as well as hundreds of wealthy individual investors have pledged to sell assets tied to fossil fuel companies from their portfolios and to invest in cleaner alternatives. In all, the groups have pledged to divest assets worth more than $50 billion from portfolios, and the individuals more than $1 billion, according to Arabella Advisors, a firm that consults with philanthropists and investors to use their resources to achieve social goals…. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/22/us/heirs-to-an-oil-fortune-join-the-divestment-drive.html. By John Schwartz, The New York Times.
2014-03-18. Scientists Sound Alarm on Climate. Excerpt: …a committee of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society, … will release a stark report Tuesday on global warming. The report will warn that the effects of human emissions of heat-trapping gases are already being felt, that the ultimate consequences could be dire, and that the window to do something about it is closing. “The evidence is overwhelming: Levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are rising,” says the report, which was made available early to The New York Times. “Temperatures are going up. Springs are arriving earlier. Ice sheets are melting. Sea level is rising. The patterns of rainfall and drought are changing. Heat waves are getting worse, as is extreme precipitation. The oceans are acidifying.” …the report contains no new science. But the language in the 18-page report, called “What We Know,” is sharper, clearer and more accessible than perhaps anything the scientific community has put out to date. And the association does not plan to stop with the report. The group, with a membership of 121,200 scientists and science supporters around the world, plans a broad outreach campaign to put forward accurate information in simple language. The scientists are essentially trying to use their powers of persuasion to cut through public confusion over this issue. Polls show that most Americans are at least somewhat worried about global warming. But people generally do not understand that the problem is urgent — that the fate of future generations (not necessarily that far in the future) is being determined by emission levels now. Moreover, the average citizen tends to think there is more scientific debate about the basics than there really is. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/18/science/scientists-sound-alarm-on-climate.html. Justin Gillis, New York Times.
2014-01-06. Suburban sprawl cancels carbon-footprint savings of dense urban cores. Excerpt: According to a new study by UC Berkeley researchers, population-dense cities contribute less greenhouse-gas emissions per person than other areas of the country, but these cities’ extensive suburbs essentially wipe out the climate benefits. Dominated by emissions from cars, trucks and other forms of transportation, suburbs account for about 50 percent of all household emissions – largely carbon dioxide – in the United States. …Interactive carbon footprint maps for more than 31,000 U.S. zip codes in all 50 states are available online at http://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/maps…. http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2014/01/06/suburban-sprawl-cancels-carbon-footprint-savings-of-dense-urban-cores/. By Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley News Center.
2013-10-07. How to Slice a Global Carbon Pie? Excerpt: …the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change… report released in Stockholm on Sept. 27 was their fifth since 1990, …. In its draft form, the fought-over paragraph declared that, to have the best chance of not exceeding the international target for global warming of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, society can burn no more than about 1 trillion tons of carbon, in the form of fossil fuels, and spew the resulting gases into the atmosphere. More than half that carbon budget has been used already. …At the rate things are going, we will exceed the budget in 30 years or fewer. …. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/08/science/how-to-slice-a-global-carbon-pie.html. Justin Gillis, The New York Times.
2013-03-13. The Price of Carbon | Movie hosted at The Climate Reality Project. Excerpt: Movie about huge hidden costs of fossil fuel based energy systems and the rationale for including such costs in the “price of carbon.” …. See full article at http://climaterealityproject.org/the-price-of-carbon/.
2013-01-05. Pulling Carbon Dioxide Out of Thin Air | Anne Eisenberg, The New York Times. Relevant to GSS Climate Chang e chapter 10. Excerpt: …a Canadian company …Carbon Engineering … plans to build a complete pilot plant by the end of 2014 for capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere…. …the oil industry … buys the gas to inject into oil fields to force out extra oil. …The recovered carbon dioxide may be sold one day, not only for enhanced oil recovery, but also to feed algae to produce biofuel. It may also be sequestered in places like unmineable coal seams and oil and gas reservoirs, says a new Energy Department report. Gas capture would be extremely important in developing a rational price for carbon emissions, said Dr. Fox of the British mechanical engineering society. “Whatever it costs to take it out of the air and store it away,” Dr. Fox said, “that’s the price polluters would pay if they want to put carbon into the air.” … Another advantage of direct air capture is geographic flexibility. “It doesn’t matter where you take the carbon dioxide out,” he said, since the gas is mixed evenly in the earth’s atmosphere. “You could have air capture machines in the Australian desert to account for New York City car emissions.” …. Read the full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/business/pilot-plant-in-the-works-for-carbon-dioxide-cleansing.html
2012-12-05. American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting—Union Frontiers of Geophysics Lecture – Professor Sir Bob Watson, Chief Scientific Advisor to the United Kingdom Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
Highlights: we’re probably not going to hit the 2°C target, and we can’t even rule out a 5°C world. Research suggests that every 1C warming increases the risk of extinction for 10% of all species. Even if that’s a 4-fold overestimate, it’s still a profound result. Events that are already occurring at only 0.8°C above pre-industrial: wildfires, more intense hurricanes, droughts, the July 2012 Greenland melt, accelerating polar ice loss, arctic sea ice decline, ocean acidification, etc. It seems that even 2°C isn’t “safe”. There is a new understanding of aerosol forcings, which might increase the total anthropogenic radiative forcing from previous estimate ~1.6 W/m^2 to something more like 2.1 W/m^2. The last part of the talk is about finding ways to build a broad coalition of support for improving the efficiency and robustness of our infrastructure while we simultaneously try to decarbonize and feed more people with increasingly less food productivity. Sir Robert Watson also spoke at a session “The Anthropocene: Confronting the Prospects of a +4°C World.” That is a 12 minute talk, starting at about 1hr 3min into the recording.
2012 November. Climate Change—Do the Math. This movie has recent climate change impacts on humanity, and a comparison of the cost of addressing climate change compared to the costs we currently incur every year to continue using fossil fuels.https://mj89sp3sau2k7lj1eg3k40hkeppguj6j-a-sites-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/ifr?url=http://www.gstatic.com/sites-gadgets/iframe/iframe.xml&container=enterprise&view=default&lang=en&country=ALL&sanitize=0&v=5de48f3948181c89&libs=core&parent=https://sites.google.com/a/globalsystemsscience.org/global-systems-science/uptodate/cc/ch10#up_scroll=auto&up_iframeURL=http://player.vimeo.com/video/53979295&st=e%3DAIHE3cCR01j%252B%252FGBqorqJB6YOOXVihC57WIFAcmDza44JUS7QZFlRTKa5gXpsrk8CZyEZeFG7iVXsECqnffQVMjsTA%252Fy%252F%252FwXLXY0cK4Jz1lPRd%252FYi7dKMPADAna7ml2Y706ZVNsXmqt8P%26c%3Denterprise&rpctoken=6068625368879240157
2012 Oct 18. A Rogue Climate Experiment Outrages Scientists. By Henry Fountain, The NY Times. Excerpt: A California businessman chartered a fishing boat in July, loaded it with 100 tons of iron dust and cruised through Pacific waters off western Canada, spewing his cargo into the sea in an ecological experiment that has outraged scientists and government officials… The entrepreneur, Russ George, calling it a “state-of-the-art study,” said his team scattered iron dust several hundred miles west of the islands of Haida Gwaii, in northern British Columbia, in exchange for $2.5 million from a native Canadian group. The iron spawned the growth of enormous amounts of plankton, which Mr. George, a former fisheries and forestry worker, said might allow the project to meet one of its goals: aiding the recovery of the local salmon fishery for the native Haida. Plankton absorbs carbon dioxide, the predominant greenhouse gas, and settles deep in the ocean when it dies, sequestering carbon. The Haida had hoped that by burying carbon, they could also sell so-called carbon offset credits to companies and make money….
2012 July 19. Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math | by Bill McKibben, Rolling Stone magazine. Excerpt: June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe. Meteorologists reported that this spring was the warmest ever recorded for our nation…. Scientists estimate that humans can pour roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by midcentury and still have some reasonable hope of staying below two degrees [C] …the amount of carbon already contained in the proven coal and oil and gas reserves of the fossil-fuel companies, and the countries … that act like fossil-fuel companies… the fossil fuel we’re currently planning to burn… is … 2,795 [gigatons] – is higher than 565. Five times higher. …If you told Exxon or Lukoil that, in order to avoid wrecking the climate, they couldn’t pump out their reserves, the value of their companies would plummet. John Fullerton, a former managing director at JP Morgan who now runs the Capital Institute, calculates that at today’s market value, those 2,795 gigatons of carbon emissions are worth about $27 trillion. Which is to say, if you paid attention to the scientists and kept 80 percent of it underground, you’d be writing off $20 trillion in assets…. Read the full article: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719
2012 Jun 07. Warming nears point of no return, scientists say. By David Perlman, SF Gate. Excerpt: The Earth is reaching a “tipping point” in climate change that will lead to increasingly rapid and irreversible destruction of the global environment unless its forces are controlled by concerted international action, an international group of scientists warns. Unchecked population growth, the disappearance of critical plant and animal species, the over-exploitation of energy resources, and the rapidly warming climate are all combining to bring mounting pressure on the Earth’s environmental health…scientists from five nations, led by UC Berkeley biologist Anthony Barnosky, report their analysis Thursday in the journal Nature….
2012 Apr 12. Fuel to Burn: Now What?. By Jad Mouawad, The New York Times. An article relevant to GSS Energy Use chapter 3. Excerpt: The reversal of fortune in America’s energy supplies in recent years holds the promise of abundant and cheaper fuel, and it could have profound effects on what people drive, domestic manufacturing and America’s foreign policy. …High energy prices led to a wave of successful oil and gas exploration in North America, including in fields that were deemed uneconomical only a few years ago. Using techniques like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, oil companies are tapping into deeply buried reserves in shale rocks and in the ocean’s depths. …Ed Morse, head of global commodity research at Citigroup and a longtime energy analyst, says North America has the potential to become a “new Middle East.” “The reduced vulnerability of North America — and the world market — to oil price spikes also has deep consequences geopolitically, including the reduced strategic importance to the U.S. of changes in oil- and natural gas-producing countries worldwide,” Mr. Morse said in a recent 92-page report called Energy 2020. …The glut of natural gas supplies … has effectively put an end in the United States to any new investment in coal plants, which produce much more emissions. But it also makes the economics of alternative, noncarbon energy sources like wind power or solar power difficult to justify without public support and subsidies. …Natural gas prices have fluctuated wildly in recent years, rising to $14 for a thousand cubic feet from $2 within a few years. The current glut, however, has driven prices back down again, to near $2 for a thousand cubic feet. …Shipping costs may be lower, particularly if transportation companies shift their fleets to natural gas-powered or electric vehicles. …. Read the full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/11/business/energy-environment/energy-boom-in-us-upends-expectations.html?_r=1&ref=businessspecial2&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120411
2012 Mar 18. Focus on technology overlooks human behavior when addressing climate change. University of Oregon Media Relations. Excerpt: Technology alone won’t help the world turn away from fossil fuel-based energy sources, says University of Oregon sociologist Richard York. In a newly published paper, York argues for a shift in political and economic policies to embrace the concept that continued growth in energy consumption is not sustainable….
…”In terms of governmental policies, we need to be thinking about social context, not just the technology,” York said. “We need to be asking what political and economic factors are conducive to seeing real displacement. Just developing non-fossil fuel sources doesn’t in itself tend to reduce fossil fuel use a lot — not enough. We need to be thinking about suppressing fossil fuel use rather than just coming up with alternatives alone.”…
2012 February 28. Belief in Global Warming on the Rebound: National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change. By Christopher P. Borick and Barry Rabe, Issues in Government Studies No. 44, The Brookings Institute. Excerpt: As 2012 begins, a growing number of Americans believe global warming is occurring. This is one of the key findings from the latest National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change (NSAPOCC). [PDF of full paper].
2012 Feb 15. Leak Offers Glimpse of Campaign Against Climate Science. By Justin Gillis and Leslie Kaufman, The NY Times. Excerpt: Leaked documents suggest that an organization known for attacking climate science is planning a new push to undermine the teaching of global warming in public schools, the latest indication that climate change is becoming a part of the nation’s culture wars.
The documents, from a nonprofit organization in Chicago called the Heartland Institute, outline plans to promote a curriculum that would cast doubt on the scientific finding that fossil fuel emissions endanger the long-term welfare of the planet….
2012 January 27. Climate Change Debate Brewing in American Classrooms. By Sam Favate, Wallstreet Journal Law Blog. Excerpt: …State boards of education in Texas and Louisiana have established standards to require the presentation of climate change denial as a valid scientific position, while legislators in Tennessee, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Kentucky have introduced bills to mandate equal time for climate change skeptics’ views in the classroom….
…While courts have held that some criticism of evolution in public schools is a violation of the separation of church and state, deniers of climate change argue that they are simply pushing academic freedom….
…In many ways, the fight over this is just beginning, since new national science standards for grades K-12 are due at the end of the year, and are expected to include climate change. That’s expected to increase resistance at the local and state levels in some areas. The legal fight — at the legislative and judicial levels — will surely intensify….
(See also Oregon Public Broadcasting report: http://news.opb.org/article/climate_change_the_new_battlefield_in_science_education/)
2012 Jan 9. Real-World Learning Through Solar Power. NSTA Reports—Lynn Petrinjak. Schools across the country are turning to solar power as a way to simultaneously conserve energy and excite students about science. In Massachusetts, Diversified Construction Services, LLC, is erecting Solar Learning Labs (SLL) at 12 schools with support from a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the Department of Education. …“We’re trying to connect the curriculum to as pragmatic a situation as possible,” says Nick Young, superintendent of Hadley Public Schools in Hadley, Massachusetts. He anticipates about half of the district’s 300 middle and high school students will participate in courses using the SLL program. “This is a higher-end kind of program. It’s a way to connect to advanced subject matter. It’s a great opportunity for [self-motivated] students to be validated, and the hands-on application will appeal to some different learning styles, too.” During the installation of the solar panels, science teachers worked with Diversified. “It’s a school-based project. There’s an educational component built into construction,” explains Young. Although the panels will produce electricity on-site, Young admits it will be a “very modest amount.”
2012 Jan 6. The Technology Path to Deep Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cuts by 2050: The Pivotal Role of Electricity. By James H. Williams et al. Science. Abstract: Several states and countries have adopted targets for deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, but there has been little physically realistic modeling of the energy and economic transformations required. We analyzed the infrastructure and technology path required to meet California’s goal of an 80% reduction below 1990 levels, using detailed modeling of infrastructure stocks, resource constraints, and electricity system operability. We found that technically feasible levels of energy efficiency and decarbonized energy supply alone are not sufficient; widespread electrification of transportation and other sectors is required. …This transformation demands technologies that are not yet commercialized, as well as coordination of investment, technology development, and infrastructure deployment.