2021-12-30. Militaries are among the world’s biggest emitters. This general wants them to go green. By Michael Birnbaum, The Washington Post. Excerpt: [Richard] Nugee was a three-star general at the peak of his career, after a long string of deployments in the world’s conflict zones, including Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. …in the final fight of his military life, he decided to take on one of the wiliest adversaries: climate change. Militaries are both enormous emitters and facing fearsome new conflicts sparked by global warming. Nugee resolved to fight a lonely battle to address both problems. …Fighting a war burns prodigious quantities of fossil fuels. The Pentagon, by some counts, is the world’s largest institutional consumer of oil. …He assembled a step-by-step plan to slash military emissions and prepare the armed forces for a hotter planet. Wars may be fought over access to water. Millions could be forced to migrate because of extreme weather. Emboldened rivals such as China and Russia are already starting to plow their warships across the melting Arctic. The strategy was published earlier this year. “This is not doing it for moral reasons. This is not doing it because it’s about emissions. It’s about our own capability, it’s about our ability to be the most successful and the most credible force that we can,” Nugee said in Glasgow, where he was one of few with a military background amid the galaxy of people trying to fight for a cooler planet.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/interactive/2021/climate-change-military-emissions-security/]
2021-12-27. Greta Thunberg on the State of the Climate Movement. Interview by KK Ottesen, The Washington Post. Excerpt: …You called COP26 a “failure” and a “PR event.” Well, in the final document, they succeeded in even watering down the blah, blah, blah. … What do you mean when you say, “watering down the blah, blah, blah”? As we all know, or as we might know, the so-called “f-word” was included for the first time in this document: fossil fuel. Which makes you wonder what they have been doing these decades without even mentioning fossil fuels for a problem which, to a very, very large extent, is caused by fossil fuels. And instead of “phasing out” [coal, the document’s language became] “phasing down.” So, yeah, that is one very clear example.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/magazine/2021/12/27/greta-thunberg-state-climate-movement-roots-her-power-an-activist/]
2021-12-17. In Amsterdam, a community of floating homes shows the world how to live alongside nature. By Shira Rubin, The Washington Post. Excerpt: …the technology already exists to make floating urban development a solution for the world’s densely populated waterfront cities that are grappling with rising sea levels and the accelerating impacts of climate change. …In the waterlogged Netherlands — a country that’s a third below sea level and two-thirds flood-prone — floating homes are the latest in a centuries-long experiment in contending with water.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/interactive/2021/amsterdam-floating-houses-schoonschip/]
2021-12-02. Geoscientists Can Help Reduce the Threat of Nuclear Weapons. By Alan Robock and Stewart C. Prager, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: While we all recognize that global warming threatens humanity, the effects of nuclear war pose an even graver threat to the global population. …Currently, there are more than 9,000 nuclear warheads in the active military stockpiles of nine nations, with more than 90% of those in Russia and the United States. Nearly 2,000 warheads are on alert status, ready to launch within minutes of an order. …The nuclear arms control regime has been weakened in recent years with the termination of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between Russia and the United States, … and the withdrawal of the United States from the Iran nuclear deal. …a nuclear conflict would cause rapid changes in Earth’s climate. Smoke from firestorms ignited by attacks on cities and industrial areas would rise into the stratosphere and persist for years [e.g., Yu et al., 2019]. …it would lead to stratospheric ozone depletion that would enhance the amount of ultraviolet radiation reaching Earth’s surface [Bardeen et al., 2021]. …The original suggestions of “nuclear winter” following a nuclear war by Turco et al. and Aleksandrov and Stenchikov , …have been supported strongly by recent work using modern high-resolution general circulation models to simulate and predict its effects [Robock et al., 2007a; Coupe et al., 2019]. …the multiyear lifetime of smoke in the stratosphere means the effects on climate would last a decade, with the largest impacts continuing for more than 5 years. Such a conflict would decrease crop production to an extent that it could seriously threaten world food security and even trigger global famine [Jägermeyr et al., 2020; L. Xia et al., Global famine after nuclear war, submitted to Nature Food, 2021]. …to reduce the likelihood of using nuclear weapons, …we can adopt a no-first-use policy, …eliminate the launch-on-warning option, …and we can eliminate presidential sole authority to launch nuclear weapons. …We believe that the ultimate solution to the problem of nuclear weapons is to ban them globally. In 2017, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons led the effort to have the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons signed at the United Nations.… [https://eos.org/opinions/geoscientists-can-help-reduce-the-threat-of-nuclear-weapons]
2021-11-12. What Does It Take to Build a Disaster-Proof House?By Candace Jackson, The New York Times. Excerpt: When a massive wildfire swept through Paradise, Calif., three years ago this week, it killed 85 people and destroyed more than 13,000 homes. …The Petersens are now rebuilding on the same site — but not the way Ms. Petersen’s grandparents built. They’re putting up a Q Cabin, a 1,400-square-foot structure made from a half-circle of noncombustible steel. …As much as a third of the housing stock in the United States — some 35 million houses — is at high risk from natural disasters related to climate change, according to information from CoreLogic, the real estate data analytics company. …Others are looking further into the past than World War II for solutions — a lot further. Michele Barbato, a professor of structural engineering in the department of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California at Davis, is studying compressed earth block construction, a 10,000-year-old technique for making bricks from tightly compacted dirt and mud, mixed with cement, limestone or a chemical stabilizer to make it water-resistant.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/12/realestate/disaster-proof-housing.html]
2021-11-11. Misc items from…. Science Magazine news. Excerpts: Less deforestation flattens still-alarming carbon emissions curve. A new report finds that carbon emissions from deforestation and other land use changes have decreased over the past decade, partly compensating for increases from burning fossil fuels. Based on updated estimates from satellite data, the report from the Global Carbon Project finds that emissions from sources such as fires, logging, and forest clearing, offset by some reforestation and regrowth of forests and abandoned farm lands, have been decreasing by about 4% a year over the past decade. But current emissions remain too high to appreciably curb warming…. Asia eyes switch to renewables. The Asian Development Bank last week announced a program to substantially cut carbon emissions from Southeast Asia by helping retire coal-fired power plants and replacing the generating capacity with renewable energy…. U.S. infrastructure bill bolsters climate response. The $1.2 billion infrastructure bill that President Joe Biden was expected to sign into law this week contains numerous provisions to bolster climate adaptation and accelerate efforts to curb global warming. The law provides $47 billion to prepare the country for worsening fires, floods, and storms. It funds electric car charging stations and mass transit and contains $9.5 billion to develop “clean” hydrogen fuel, produced from low-carbon sources, for industrial use. An additional $3.5 billion will fund four centers to study ways of removing carbon directly from the atmosphere.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/news-glance-carbon-emission-offsets-covid-19-vaccines-kids-and-scientists-plagiarism]
2021-11-10. Serious about climate change? Get serious about peat. By William Booth, The Washington Post. Excerpt: GARSTANG, England — Moor, bog, fen, mire, flush, swamp, slough. Peatlands have gotten a bum rap. They’re inhospitable, useless. Too wet to plow, too dry to fish, the old farmers say. Scorned as anaerobic wastelands, dissed in the popular imagination, imagined as the eerie Dead Marshes in “The Lord of the Rings” or the forbidding Grimpen Mire in “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” …All slander, said Christian Dunn, wetlands scientist at Bangor University in Wales. “Peat is the superhero of the natural world,” he said. These waterlogged, acidic, low-nutrient ecosystems are the most carbon-dense lands on Earth. You want to safely store carbon for a thousand years? Nothing beats peat. It’s nature’s vault.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/11/10/cop26-peat-carbon/]
2021-11-10. Got Climate Doom?. By Genevieve Guenther and David Wallace-Wells, The New York Times. Excerpt: Thousands of youth activists at the Glasgow climate talks this week demonstrated for action from world leaders whose words convey the seriousness of the emergency but whose actions against major carbon contributors are lacking. But, as host Jane Coaston says, “as fun as doomerism is, doomerism doesn’t do anything.” So what is an individual to do? Recycle? Compost? Give up meat or flying or plastic straws? Protest in the streets? To parse which personal actions matter and which don’t, Jane is joined by the climate activist and author Genevieve Guenther, who argues that for the wealthier citizens of the world, there are real steps that can be taken right away to help fight the current and impending climate catastrophes. Guenther lists them according to one’s ability, time and resources.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/10/opinion/climate-change-personal-actions.html]
2021-10-19. In Sonoma County, ‘Regenerative Agriculture’ Is the Next Big Thing. By Amy Tara Koch, The New York Times. Excerpt: This holistic approach to land management is called regenerative agriculture. It eschews conventional farming techniques and taps into composting, pollinator habitat restoration and other measures to encourage nutrient-dense soil. These practices also curb skyrocketing carbon emissions by coaxing carbon from the atmosphere and into plant roots, a process known as carbon sequestration. Nitrogen, supplied by cover crops, helps the process. …Indeed, mitigating climate change is the end goal. And while many wineries around the world are also implementing decarbonization measures, vineyards in Sonoma County are some of the earliest pioneers in the practice.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/19/travel/sonoma-county-regenerative-agriculture.html]
2021-10-01. What’s the Least Bad Way to Cool the Planet? Source: By David Keith, The New York Times. Excerpt: [We usually do not post opinion pieces, but this one raises an important point…] …Warming is proportional to the cumulative emissions over the industrial era. Eliminating emissions by about 2050 is a difficult but achievable goal. …Average temperatures will stop increasing when emissions stop, but cooling will take thousands of years as greenhouse gases slowly dissipate from the atmosphere. Because the world will be a lot hotter by the time emissions reach zero, heat waves and storms will be worse than they are today. And while the heat will stop getting worse, sea level will continue to rise for centuries as polar ice melts in a warmer world. This July was the hottest month ever recorded, but it is likely to be one of the coolest Julys for centuries after emissions reach zero. …To cool the planet in this century, humans must either remove carbon from the air or use solar geoengineering, a temporary measure that may reduce peak temperatures, extreme storms and other climatic changes. Humans might make the planet Earth more reflective by adding tiny sulfuric acid droplets to the stratosphere from aircraft, whitening low-level clouds over the ocean by spraying sea salt into the air or by other interventions.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/01/opinion/climate-change-geoengineering.html]
2021-09-30. How Do You Know If You’ve Experienced Global Warming? Source: By Kimberly M. S. Cartier, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: People in every corner of the United States are increasingly seeing climate change affect their daily lives: water shortages and lost crops from extended drought, record-breaking heat waves in cities, hazy air from wildfire smoke half a country away, and hurricane-related flooding in basement apartments, to name just a few. …A recent study in Global Environmental Change has found that regardless of political and sociodemographic factors, experiencing an anomalously high number of hot, dry days is most likely to make U.S. residents believe they’ve experienced global warming. “Climate change expresses itself very differently in different places—wildfires and drought in the West, hurricanes and flooding in the East, all of the above in Texas!” said Jennifer Marlon, a climate scientist at the Yale School of the Environment in New Haven, Conn., and lead author of the study. “This study points to the importance of helping people interpret local impacts from extreme weather and connecting those impacts to their root cause: fossil fuel burning and the carbon pollution it produces.” …Only after experiencing an unusually high number of hot, dry days were respondents more likely than the national average of 30% to answer that they had personally experienced global warming. Each year of the survey, the shift in perception was greatest in regions that were most affected by heat waves and long-term drought, including California, Texas, and cities across the country.… [https://eos.org/articles/how-do-you-know-if-youve-experienced-global-warming]
2021-09-30. In Your Facebook Feed: Oil Industry Pushback Against Biden Climate Plans. Source: By Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times. Excerpt: The messages take aim at Democrats by name as part of a broad effort to undermine landmark climate legislation that now hangs in the balance in Congress.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/30/climate/api-exxon-biden-climate-bill.html]
2021-09-24. Eating sustainably is one of the easiest ways to combat climate change, experts say. Source: By Julia Jacobo, ABC News. Excerpt: As temperatures around the world continue to warm at alarming rates, individuals are asking themselves what lifestyle changes they can make to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. …the easiest thing individuals can do in their daily lives to make an impact in the climate fight is simple switches to their diets — and they don’t even have to become a vegetarian or give up animal products altogether to do it, experts say. …The easiest way to make a meal more sustainable is to eat less meat and more organic, plant-based foods — the closer they were grown, the better, according to the experts. …Meat consumption is the largest culprit of greenhouse gas emissions in American diets …Planetary boundaries are being challenged by meat consumption, but meat, and beef in particular, represents the majority of the carbon footprint in the American diet, experts say.… [https://abcnews.go.com/US/eating-sustainably-easiest-ways-combat-climate-change-experts/story?id=80043481]
2021-07-23. [https://eos.org/articles/climate-litigation-has-a-big-evidence-gap] – Climate Litigation Has a Big Evidence Gap. Source: By Kimberly M. S. Cartier, Eos/AGU Excerpt: Climate change has found its way into courtrooms around the world more and more often in recent years: Plaintiffs have brought more than 1,500 cases of climate litigation since 1986, and an increasing number of cases are filed each year. … However, climate litigation has failed more often than not to hold greenhouse gas emitters accountable for climate-related impacts like flooding and damage from drought or wildfires. …The researchers examined 73 cases across 14 jurisdictions worldwide that made a claim that a defendant’s emissions negatively impacted the plaintiffs. In those cases, courts did not dispute the general idea that greenhouse gases cause climate change. “What was more of a challenge,” Stuart-Smith said, “was establishing a causal relationship between greenhouse gas emissions of an individual entity…and specific impacts on a specific location.” Making that causal connection is key for the success of climate litigation, he said, and is the goal of climate attribution science, or science that quantifies the extent to which climate change alters an event. …However, 73% of the cases the team examined did not bring forward peer-reviewed climate attribution science as evidence….
2021-07-16. [https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/07/16/true-cost-of-american-food-system/] – The health and climate consequences of the American food system cost three times as much as the food itself. Source: By Laura Reiley, The Washington Post. Excerpt: …The true cost of food is even higher than you think, a new report out Thursday says. The U.S. spends $1.1 trillion a year on food. But when the impacts of the food system on different parts of our society — including rising health care costs, climate change and biodiversity loss — are factored in, the bill is around three times that, according to a report by the Rockefeller Foundation, a private charity that funds medical and agricultural research. Using government statistics, scientific literature and insights from experts across the food system, the researchers quantified things like the share of direct medical costs attributable to diet and food, as well as the productivity loss associated with those health problems. They also looked at how crop cultivation and ranching, and other aspects of U.S. food production impacted the environment….
2021-07-02. [https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/02/climate/trees-cities-heat-waves.html] – What Technology Could Reduce Heat Deaths? Trees. Source: By Catrin Einhorn, The New York Times. Excerpt: At a time when climate change is making heat waves more frequent and more severe, trees are stationary superheroes: They can lower urban temperatures 10 lifesaving degrees, scientists say….
2021-05-12. [https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/12/science/space-junk-climate-change.html] – What if Space Junk and Climate Change Become the Same Problem? Source: By Jonathan O’Callaghan, The New York Times. Excerpt: Our planet’s atmosphere naturally pulls orbiting debris downward and incinerates it in the thicker lower atmosphere, but increasing carbon dioxide levels are lowering the density of the upper atmosphere, which may diminish this effect. A study presented last month at the European Conference on Space Debris says that the problem has been underestimated, and that the amount of space junk in orbit could, in a worst-case scenario, increase 50 times by 2100….
2021-04-30. [https://www.savetheredwoods.org/press-releases/research-confirms-significant-role-of-redwood-forests-in-californias-climate-fight/] – Research from Save the Redwoods League and Humboldt State University Confirms Significant Role of Redwood Forests in California’s Climate Fight. Source: Save the Redwoods League and Humboldt State University. Excerpt: Newly published research from Save the Redwoods League and Humboldt State University (HSU) confirms the exceptionally large role that redwood forests can play in California’s strategy to address climate change. The research demonstrates that old-growth coast redwood forests store more carbon per acre than any other forest type. …The findings cap 11 years of research through the League’s Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative (RCCI), which has also revealed that younger second-growth coast redwood forests grow quickly enough to result in substantial carbon storage in a relatively short period. This makes a strong case for investing in the restoration of previously logged redwood forests. …Prior to industrial logging, California had more than 2 million acres of ancient redwoods, but now only about 113,000 acres of old-growth redwood forests remain, largely protected in parks and preserves. According to Sillett’s team, there can be up to 890 metric tons of carbon (1 metric ton = 2,205 pounds) stored per acre of old-growth redwood forest, which is the estimated equivalent of taking about 700 passenger vehicles off the road for a year. In place of all that lost old-growth forest now stand about 1.5 million acres of younger second-growth redwood forests. …While these regrowing forests don’t match old-growth forests in terms of total biomass or carbon storage per acre, they grow extremely quickly and recover fire- and decay-resistant carbon storage capacity fast. In a study published last year, the RCCI team found that in 150 years, fast-growing second-growth redwood forests can accumulate 40 percent as much biomass and store 30 percent as much carbon as the original old-growth in their decay-resistant heartwood. Further, some redwood forests that were logged in the mid-1800s have already accumulated as much as 339 metric tons of carbon per acre—the equivalent of taking about 270 passenger vehicles off the road for one year. This level of carbon storage has profound implications when extended across 1.5 million acres of second-growth redwood forests….
2021-04-22. There’s a Booming Business in America’s Forests. Some Aren’t Happy About It. By Gabriel Popkin, The New York Times. Excerpt: …a huge factory that dries and presses wood into roughly cigarette-filter-sized pellets roared to life…. The slumberless factory’s output is trucked to a port in Chesapeake, Va., and loaded on ships bound for Europe, where it will be burned to produce electricity and heat for millions of people. It’s part of a fast-growing industry that, depending on whom you ask, is an unwelcome source of pollution or a much-needed creator of rural jobs; a forest protector, or a destroyer. In barely a decade, the Southeast’s wood pellet industry has grown from almost nothing to 23 mills with capacity to produce more than 10 million metric tons annually for export. It employs more than 1,000 people directly, and has boosted local logging and trucking businesses. …The open question is whether a world increasingly desperate to avert climate disaster will continue to embrace, or turn away from, humanity’s original fuel: wood. Most divisive is the industry’s claim to battle climate change by replacing dirty fossil fuels with clean bioenergy. …Many foresters, economists and environmental policy experts endorse that idea. But a legion of ecologists, conservationists and others strongly disagree. …In 2009, European officials decided to declare biomass energy — basically, the burning of wood or other plants, rather than fossil fuels — to be carbon neutral. The idea is that regrowing plants, over time, would ultimately reabsorb the carbon dioxide released by the burning. …Many scientists have long been skeptical of biomass’s climate benefits. Wood releases more carbon dioxide per unit of electricity produced than coal or gas, and a newly planted tree can take decades to reabsorb the carbon dioxide emitted by burning. …In 2009, a group …wrote in the journal Science protesting what they called a “critical climate accounting error.” They argued that certain major international climate policies and legislation designed to reduce countries’ greenhouse gas emissions allow nations to burn biomass and discount their smokestack emissions but fail to account for the carbon losses caused by cutting down trees to burn them…. [https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/19/climate/wood-pellet-industry-climate.html]
2021-04-22. 17 Young People on the Moment the Climate Crisis Became Real for Them. By Mary Retta, Mother Jones. Excerpt: …originally … in Teen Vogue…. Watching An Inconvenient Truth in your middle-school science class. Hearing Greta Thunberg’s calls to join weekly school strikes. Driving away from smoldering wildfires engulfing dry California hillsides. These are some of the moments that made young people realize the climate crisis will define their lives—and the future of human life on Earth. We’ve heard the facts so many times that it’s easy to become numb to them: The world is steadily growing warmer, certain parts of the world are facing extreme droughts or floods, many wildlife populations are shrinking—and things are only projected to grow worse, with carbon emissions rising and countries contributing to mass deforestation. Despite these emergencies, many politicians, including Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, deny the reality of climate change. And the Western world, particularly the United States, is currently the biggest contributor to the climate crisis. …younger generations have risen up, calling on global leaders to treat our rapidly changing climate like the emergency it is. Teen Vogue heard from more than 80 young people about how they imagine the climate crisis might define their future. A selection of their responses is below, condensed and lightly edited for clarity…. [https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2021/04/young-people-moment-climate-crisis-became-real/]
2021-04-19. The Climate Clock Now Ticks With a Tinge of Optimism. By Colin Moynihan, The New York Times. Excerpt: The display in New York’s Union Square, which reports the window to address global warming, now also measures the rising use of renewable energy…. [https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/19/arts/design/climate-change-clock-new-york.html]
2021-04-12. ‘Sink into your grief.’ How one scientist confronts the emotional toll of climate change. By David Malakoff, Science Magazine. Excerpt: “I was trained to be calm, rational, and objective, to focus on the facts,” sustainability scientist Kimberly Nicholas recalls in her new book, Under the Sky We Make: How to Be Human in a Warming World. But as research has increasingly revealed how climate change will forever alter the ecosystems and communities she loves, she has struggled to address her feelings of sadness. “My dispassionate training,” the Lund University researcher writes, has “not prepared me for the increasingly frequent emotional crises of climate change,” or how to respond to students who come to her to share their own grief. It’s a situation many scientists and professors are facing these days, Nicholas writes. “Being witness to the demise or death of what we love has started to look an awful lot like the job description.” But Nicholas says the untimely death of a close friend helped persuade her that the only way forward was to acknowledge that “we are not going to be able to save all the things we love.” Instead, she says, we have to “swim through that ocean of grief … and recognize that we still have time to act, and salvage many of the things we care about.” …In 2017, she and climate scientist Seth Wynes, now at Concordia University, published a high-profile paper showing the most effective actions to reduce an individual’s carbon footprint—such as flying less or shifting to a vegetarian diet—are rarely emphasized by governments or educators. But it was the study’s finding that going childless could dramatically reduce a person’s contribution to global warming that generated headlines—and controversy—around the world…. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/04/sink-your-grief-how-one-scientist-confronts-emotional-toll-climate-change]
2021-04-05. Chasing Carbon Unicorns. By Rishika Pardikar, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: According to a new report, net zero targets many governments are pursuing are distractions from the urgent need to drastically reduce carbon emissions In the past few months, many governments have announced net zero carbon emission targets. These targets update the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) at the heart of the Paris Agreement. …Net zero describes the goal of removing as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as is emitted. …The net zero targets outlined by NDCs and corporations …include nature-based solutions like planting more trees to sequester carbon, developing carbon capture and storage technologies, and investing in carbon offsets (largely defined as a reduction in carbon emissions made by one party to compensate for emissions made by another). But net zero targets described by NDCs and businesses are “deceptions” and “distractions,” according to a new report by Friends of the Earth International (FoEI). …Sometimes the [net zero] targets do not aim to reduce emissions, but compensate for them with offsets. …A foundational fallacy in net zero targets, the FoEI report claims, rests in a misrepresentation of the carbon cycle …divided into two parts based on timescale. One is the biogenic cycle, in which carbon circulates between the atmosphere, land, and oceans. The other is the slower, nonbiogenic cycle in which carbon circulates between fossil fuels stored underground and the atmosphere. The biogenic cycle can occur within hours, days, and years. The nonbiogenic cycle takes hundreds of thousands, even millions, of years. Net zero targets conflate the two cycles, the FoEI report claims. Targets assume all the carbon that’s already circulating in the atmosphere as well as all the carbon that will be emitted by fossil fuels can be safely and effectively sequestered. …We are putting significant stress on all these pools by pushing them to take up additional fossil CO2.…We cannot just stuff the geosphere (i.e., CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels) into the biosphere,” the report says…. [https://eos.org/articles/chasing-carbon-unicorns]
2021-03-24. New generation of carbon dioxide traps could make carbon capture practical. By Robert F. Service. Excerpt: Windmills and solar panels are proliferating fast, but not fast enough to stave off the worst of climate change. Doing so, U.N. climate experts say, will also require capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the tens of thousands of fossil fuel power plants and industrial smokestacks likely to keep belching for years to come. Today’s most popular approach for capturing CO2 is too expensive for widespread use. But researchers are now developing a new generation of chemical CO2 traps, including one shown this month to reduce the cost by nearly 20%. When existing U.S. tax credits are added to the mix, carbon capture is nearing commercial viability, says Joan Brennecke, a carbon capture expert at the University of Texas, Austin. … in the March issue of International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, the PNNL team, together with researchers at the Electric Power Research Institute and the engineering giant Fluor, have published a detailed analysis showing that a full-scale coal-fired power plant using 2-EEMPA would require 17% less energy than today’s state of the art carbon-capture systems…. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/03/new-generation-carbon-dioxide-traps-could-make-carbon-capture-practical]
2021-03-05. More than 50 companies have vowed to be carbon-neutral by 2040. By Desmond Butler and Steven Mufson, The Washington Post. Excerpt: Amazon, Walmart, General Motors, and now FedEx. There is a quickening rhythm of corporations with big carbon footprints pledging action to combat climate change. …Yet even the prodigious voluntary steps by a portion of the corporate world lack the speed, scale or scientific know-how needed to move the thermometer of the warming planet very far in the right direction without government support or broader behavioral changes in the private sector. Just Wednesday, FedEx promised to be carbon-neutral by 2040, 10 years faster than the timeline laid out by the Paris climate accord. The company pledged an initial investment of $2 billion to start electrifying its massive fleet of more than 180,000 vehicles and $100 million for a new Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture. The giant delivery company joins more than 50 other major corporations that also aim to be carbon-neutral by 2040 in an effort to curb climate change by tackling their own contributions to it. Executives point to a gathering cultural change, with companies responding not only to shareholders activists but to the growing urgency of climate change and the concerns of their own employees and customers…. [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/03/05/more-than-50-companies-have-vowed-be-carbon-neutral-by-2040]
2021-03-02. Top oil and gas lobbying group close to backing a carbon tax. By Steven Mufson, The Washington Post. Excerpt: The American Petroleum Institute, the oil and gas industry’s top lobbying arm, is edging closer to endorsing a carbon tax, a tool that would make fossil fuels more expensive, boost prospects for renewable and nuclear energy, and curb pollution that is driving climate change…. [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/03/02/api-climate-carbon-tax/]
2021-02-25. A third of all food in the U.S. gets wasted. Fixing that could help fight climate change. By Sarah Kaplan. The Washington Post. Excerpt: The carbon footprint of U.S. food waste is greater than that of the airline industry. Globally, wasted food accounts for about 8 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. The environmental consequences of producing food that no one eats are massive. …Meanwhile, a staggering 26 million American adults told the Census Bureau last fall that they hadn’t had enough to eat in the previous week. The problem was even worse in households with children…. [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2021/02/25/climate-curious-food-waste/]
2021-02-05. Geological Surveys Unite to Improve Critical Mineral Security. By Poul Emsbo, Christopher Lawley, and Karol Czarnota, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: A three-nation consortium is pooling geological expertise and resources to address vulnerabilities in supplies of these crucial natural resources. The global economy is unprepared to meet the exploding demand for critical minerals. These materials, many of which were of little economic interest until recently, are required to fuel a proliferation of technologies and industries that have become vital for social and economic well-being the world over. But supplies of critical minerals are at risk because of their natural scarcity and because of geopolitical issues and trade policies that complicate their distribution, among other factors. Critical minerals such as gallium, indium, and the rare earth elements (REEs) are indispensable in the operation of the electronics that run our computers and the devices that display our data. Others containing phosphorus and potassium fertilize fields that feed the growing global population and are even active ingredients in pharmaceuticals. New metal alloys made with critical minerals are used to produce lighter, stronger materials that increase vehicle fuel efficiency. Lighter vehicles, many of which use new battery materials derived from critical minerals (e.g., lithium, cobalt, nickel), are transforming our transportation systems. Critical minerals essential for the development of new energy-related technologies that support the shift to noncarbon-based energy sources are becoming especially important. …In December 2019, the Critical Minerals Mapping Initiative (CMMI), a research collaboration among scientists from three nations, convened its inaugural meeting in Ottawa, Canada. This initiative, which includes representatives from the Geological Survey of Canada, Geoscience Australia, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), aims to harness the combined geological expertise of these organizations to address global natural resource vulnerabilities…. [https://eos.org/science-updates/geological-surveys-unite-to-improve-critical-mineral-security]
2021-02-03. Finding “Glocal” Solutions to Flooding Problems. By Alka Tripathy-Lang, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Scientists call for joint efforts to combine real-time global rainfall data with high-resolution local hydrology to better forecast floods. Type “flooding today” into your search engine. You will likely find at least one place battling rising waters somewhere in the world—Mozambique today, Yorkshire yesterday, Hawaii tomorrow. Floods occur when water encroaches on dry land, which can happen during hurricane-induced storm surges or when heavy precipitation (or snowmelt) has nowhere to go. …“Weather patterns, which cause flooding, are happening at the global scale,” said Guy Schumann, a flood hydrologist with the University of Colorado Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, “but impacts of floods are very localized.” Local effects include costs to the economy, displacement of populations, and loss of life. Schumann and a team of scientists led by Huan Wu, a professor at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangdong, China, developed an innovative flood model linking global precipitation patterns with localized hydrology—where water goes once it finds land. Their work provided useful information to the Chinese Ministry for Emergency Management when record rainfall in 2020 posed an immediate threat—an event that eventually affected 40 million people, according to Wu’s team…. [https://eos.org/articles/finding-glocal-solutions-to-flooding-problems] 2020-12-22. The Year in Climate. By The New York Times. Excerpt: 2020 was a crisis year: a pandemic, economic turmoil, social upheaval. And running through it all, climate change. Here’s some of the best reporting from The Times’s Climate Desk…. [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/climate/2020-climate-change.html]