The Six Scenarios:
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from The Conversation:
The best way to protect us from climate change? Save our ecosystems
... Data have now confirmed that salt marshes would have significantly reduced the impact of those surges, and stabilised the shoreline against further insult, at far less cost than engineered coastal defences. With this data in hand, discussions are now beginning around how to restore the Louisiana salt marshes to insulate against future extreme weather events. ...
from IEEE Spectrum:
NOAA Model Finds Renewable Energy Could be Deployed in the U.S. Without Storage
The majority of the United States's electricity needs could be met with renewable energy by 2030--without new advances in energy storage or cost increases. That's the finding of a new study conducted by researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The key will be having sufficient transmission lines spanning the contiguous U.S., so that energy can be deployed from where it's generated to the places where its needed. Reporting their results today in Nature Climate Change, the researchers found that a combination of solar and wind energy, plus high-voltage direct current transmission lines that travel across the country, would reduce the electric sector's carbon dioxide emissions by up to 80 percent compared to 1990 levels.
from Detroit Free Press:
State Police to deliver water door-to-door in Flint
Michigan State Police troopers and other state officials will start a door-to-door sweep of Flint on Tuesday to hand out bottled water and water filters... Flint's drinking water was contaminated with lead, and an unknown number of children were poisoned while the city was under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager in 2014 and 2015. The emergency manager, to cut costs, switched Flint's water supply source from Lake Huron, supplied by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, to the more polluted and corrosive Flint River.
from InsideClimate News:
Vermont Governor Urges State to Divest from Coal, Exxon
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said on Thursday his state should take action against climate change this year by divesting public pension funds from coal and from oil giant ExxonMobil, because of its history of sowing doubt about climate change despite the company's own scientists having studied it. Speaking at his annual State of the State address, Shumlin said, "The urgency for us to take every sensible action against climate change has never been greater." He asked his legislature to send him a bill that would divest the state's public pension funds from all coal stocks, as well as from stock in Exxon.
from The Guardian:
French MPs vote to force supermarkets to give away unsold food
French MPs have voted unanimously to force supermarkets to give away unsold food that has reached its sell-by date. Shops will also be banned from destroying food products, as they have in the past - sometimes by soaking them in bleach - to prevent them being distributed.
from The Guardian:
Conservationists betting on bees to ease clash of humans and elephants
A community near the famed Serengeti national park in Tanzania is enlisting the help of bees to reduce escalating tensions with elephants that enrage locals by trampling upon their crops. A fence made of beehives is being constructed around a one-acre farm close to the Ngorongoro conservation area as part of the pilot project to see if the buzzing bees will deter elephants that stroll on to cropland.
from Washington Post:
Wind, solar power soaring in spite of bargain prices for fossil fuels
Wind and solar power appear set for a record-breaking year in 2016 as a clean-energy construction boom gains momentum in spite of a global glut of cheap fossil fuels.... Energy analysts say the boom is being spurred in part by improved technology, which has made wind and solar more competitive with fossil fuels in many regions. But equally important, experts say, is better access to financing, as major Wall Street investment houses adopt a more bullish posture toward an industry that was once considered financially risky. In November, Goldman Sachs announced it was quadrupling its investments in renewables to $150 billion.
from Los Angeles Times:
As a killer fungus looms, scientists call for a ban on salamander imports
If it makes its way to our shores, a newly discovered fungus from Asia could wipe out large numbers of salamander species and spark a major North American biodiversity crisis, scientists are warning.... "This is an imminent threat, and a place where policy could have a very positive effect," Vance Vredenburg, a biologist at San Francisco State University and a coauthor of the piece in Science, said in a statement. "We actually have a decent chance of preventing a major catastrophe."... "This fungus is much worse," UC Berkeley biology professor David Wake, another of the report's coauthors, said in a statement. "Bsal is an acute infection that just turns them into little masses of slime in three to four days."
This cleantech expert lays down the facts on solar and natural gas
... A materials scientist and professor of engineering at MIT, Trancik would rather help humanity beat the clock by speeding up the development of clean energy technologies and sounding the alarm when a technology looks like it isn't going to scale effectively. In short, she's a cleantech efficiency expert. Whether it's solar cells, wind turbines, electric vehicles, natural gas biofuels, or that "miracle energy" your uncle emailed you about, Trancik wants to know: what materials does it require, how much do those materials cost, how much would we have to use the technology in order to meet emissions targets, how much would materials extraction and refinement have to go up accordingly, how much would that cost, and -- most importantly -- is this a smart or realistic path to go down?
from London Guardian:
Dalai Lama tells Glastonbury of the need to speak out on climate change
The Dalai Lama has endorsed the pope's radical message on climate change and called on fellow religious leaders to "speak out about current affairs which affect the future of mankind"... The Dalai Lama, who will turn 80 next Monday, called for more pressure to be put on international governments to stop the burning of fossil fuels and mass deforestation and invest more in green energy sources.
from London Guardian:
Record boost in new solar power continues massive industry growth
A record amount of solar power was added to the world's grids in 2014, pushing total cumulative capacity to 100 times the level it was in 2000. Around 40GW of solar power was installed last year, meaning there is now a total of 178GW to meet world electricity demand, prompting renewable energy associations to claim that a tipping point has been reached that will allow rapid acceleration of the technology.
from New York Times:
Court Gives Obama a Climate Change Win
A federal court on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit by the nation's largest coal companies and 14 coal-producing states that sought to block one of President Obama's signature climate change policies... He concluded, "We deny the petitions for review and the petition for a writ of prohibition because the complained-of agency action is not final."
from Climate Progress:
New Report Shows EPA'S Proposed Carbon Regulations Will Create Tens Of Thousands Of Jobs
By 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan will create nearly 100,000 more jobs than are lost, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute, a non-partisan think tank. The report's initial estimates are higher than some similar studies; however, the institute found that the job impacts of the Clean Power Plan, which limits carbon emissions from power plants, would not last, and would become "almost completely insignificant by 2030."
Iowa's first fully solar-powered school district should happen this summer
Students in one small southern Iowa district will return to see big technology changes this fall. Workers over the summer will transform the school buildings into Iowa's first district completely powered by the sun... WACO's solar conversation became a teachable moment this spring as 5th and 6th graders eagerly took daily measurements and computed the power output. Teacher Chad McClanahan said students began rooting for sunny days so the system would produce more power.
Common Bacterium Helps Bats With White-nose Syndrome
... This time, the researchers grew the bacterium on cobalt, which produced so-called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that stop the fungus, Psuedogymnoascus destructans, from growing. "The amazing part about this is that these compounds diffuse through the air and act at very low concentrations, so the bats are treated by exposing them to air containing the VOCs (the compounds do not need to be 'directly' applied to the bats)," according to a USFS press release. "Many of the bats in those trials experienced increased health and survival," it said. However, more than one chemical is created from the reaction, so the scientists' next step is to isolate which chemical is the one that stops the fungus from growing.
from InsideClimate News:
Pennsylvania High School Students Convince School to Divest From Coal
A Pennsylvania high school just made history. George School in Newtown announced April 27 that it would divest its $150 million endowment of holdings in coal mining companies, likely becoming the first secondary school in the nation to join the global movement to rid investment portfolios of fossil fuel stocks. The decision was prompted by a student petition. "I was thrilled that the kids were active and concerned and brought this to the board--and that the board was respectful," said head of school Nancy Starmer.
Syracuse University to divest $1.18bn endowment from fossil fuels
Syracuse University will remove its $1.18bn endowment from direct investments in fossil fuel companies, it announced on Tuesday. Syracuse is the biggest university in the world to have committed to remove its endowment from direct investments in coal, oil and gas companies. It aims to make additional investments in clean energy technologies such as solar, biofuels and advanced recycling. In a statement, the university said it will "not directly invest in publicly traded companies whose primary business is extraction of fossil fuels and will direct its external investment managers to take every step possible to prohibit investments in these public companies as well".
from Fast Company:
Portland's New Pipes Harvest Power From Drinking Water
If you live in Portland, your lights may now be partly powered by your drinking water. An ingenious new system captures energy as water flows through the city's pipes, creating hydropower without the negative environmental effects of something like a dam. Small turbines in the pipes spin in the flowing water, and send that energy into a generator.
Experts warn governments to plan for climate change migrants
Governments need to plan better for rising migration driven by climate change, experts said on Thursday, citing evidence that extreme weather and natural disasters force far more people from their homes than wars. Projections by leading climate scientists of rising sea levels, heatwaves, floods and droughts linked to global warming are likely to oblige millions of people to move out of harm's way, with some never able to return.
China sets 2020 "artificial weather" target to combat water shortages
China aims to induce more than 60 billion cubic metres of additional rain each year by 2020, using an "artificial weather" programme to fight chronic water shortages, the government said on Monday. China's water resources are among the world's lowest, standing at 2,100 cubic metres per person, or just 28 percent of the world average.... Artificial rain is created by rocket-launching chemicals, such as silver iodide, into clouds to boost rain. China used the technology, known as cloud seeding, to scatter clouds ahead of the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.... Around 70 percent of China's rivers and lakes have become too polluted to use.
from Scientific American:
2015 Begins with CO2 above 400 PPM Mark
The new year has only just begun, but we've already recorded our first days with average carbon dioxide levels above 400 parts per million, potentially leading to many months in a row above this threshold, experts say. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography records of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels show that Jan. 1 was the first day of the new year above that concentration, followed by Jan. 3 and Jan. 7. Daily averages have continued at this level or higher through Jan. 9, though they could continue to dance up and down around that mark due to day-to-day variations caused by weather systems. But even with those fluctuations, 2015 will likely see many months above 400 ppm, possibly starting with the very first month of the year.
Challenging the divine right of big energy
... The new calendar that renamed 1792 as Year One had, after all, been created to start society all over again. In that little junk shop on a quiet street in San Francisco, I held a relic from one of the great upheavals of the last millennium. It made me think of a remarkable statement the great feminist fantasy writer Ursula K. Le Guin had made only a few weeks earlier. In the course of a speech she gave while accepting a book award she noted, "We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings."... As it happens, the planet's changing climate now demands that we summon up the energy to leave behind the Age of Fossil Fuel (and maybe with it some portion of the Age of Capitalism as well).
from Globe & Mail:
Oil sands must remain largely unexploited to meet climate target, study finds
The study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, does not single out the Alberta oil sands for special scrutiny, but rather considers the geographic distribution of the world's total fossil fuel supply, including oil, coal and natural gas reserves, and their potential impact on international efforts to curb global warming.... As previous studies have already shown, roughly two-thirds of fossil fuels that can already be extracted at a competitive price will need to remain unburned before 2050 to achieve this goal. The new analysis shows that in order to optimize costs and benefits, that two-thirds cannot be evenly distributed around the world, but must be skewed toward more carbon-intense fuels situated far from potential markets. The computer model suggests that it will be next to impossible to meet climate targets if those fuels are tapped to a significant degree, even as producers continue to develop these reserves.... The study uses a more conservative estimate of 48 billion barrels as the current reserve and then finds that only 7.5 billion barrels of that, or about 15 per cent, can be used by 2050 as part of the global allotment of fossil-fuel use in a two-degree scenario. The figure assumes that new technologies will make possible a reduction in the carbon intensity of oil sands production. If this does not happen, the authors say, then even less of the oil-sands reserve should be extracted.
Antibiotics: US discovery labelled 'game-changer' for medicine
The heyday of antibiotic discovery was in the 1950s and 1960s, but nothing found since 1987 has made it into doctor's hands. Since then microbes have become incredibly resistant. Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis ignores nearly everything medicine can throw at it. Back to soil: The researchers, at the Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, turned to the source of nearly all antibiotics - soil. This is teeming with microbes, but only 1 percent can be grown in the laboratory. The team created a "subterranean hotel" for bacteria. One bacterium was placed in each "room" and the whole device was buried in soil. It allowed the unique chemistry of soil to permeate the room, but kept the bacteria in place for study.... The lead scientist, Prof Kim Lewis, said: "So far 25 new antibiotics have been discovered using this method and teixobactin is the latest and most promising one.... Tests on teixobactin showed it was toxic to bacteria, but not mammalian tissues, and could clear a deadly dose of MRSA in tests on mice.
from Wisconsin State Journal:
Technique for turning manure into drinkable water could help lakes
Dane County is setting aside about $1.3 million for new technology officials say could turn lake-fouling dairy cow manure into crystal clear water. The process would be installed at a county-sponsored biodigester just outside of Middleton that this year began collecting natural gas from manure and other waste, and extracting about half of the phosphorus before the manure-waste mixture is spread on farm fields as fertilizer.
from Sheffield, University of:
Switch from cattle fields to 'carbon farms' could tackle climate change, save endangered animals cheaply
Changing cattle fields to forests is a cheap way of tackling climate change and saving species threatened with extinction, a new study has found. Researchers from leading universities carried out a survey of carbon stocks, biodiversity and economic values from one of the world's most threatened ecosystems, the western Andes of Colombia. The main use of land in communities is cattle farming, but the study found farmers could make the same or more money by allowing their land to naturally regenerate.
from Youth Power Indiana:
A Message from Santa's Elves
Growing Styrofoam out of mushrooms
In a college dorm room, under a twin XL bed, a company was born. Ecovative, a biodesign company based in Albany, NY, began as a science project for Gavin McIntyre and Eben Bayer -- they grew oyster mushrooms under their beds, in the hopes of using them to recycle farm waste, and eventually, create an alternative to soft plastics, like Styrofoam. The experiment worked. Using the roots of mushrooms, Ecovative turns agricultural waste into packing materials, insulation, and even surfboards. Their products replace harmful, carcinogenic plastics found in Styrofoam and in furniture made from wood composite. Their products are all biodegradable, compostable, and sustainable.
from The Independent (UK):
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
The collapsing oil price that is reshaping the global economy could derail the green energy revolution by making renewable power sources prohibitively bad value, experts have warned. Oil tumbled below $60 a barrel for the first time in more than five years yesterday - a fall of 44 per cent since June. It is forecast to fall further. A new "era of cheap oil" would be good news for consumers and motorists - but analysts say the consequences for politics, industry and the climate could be even more radical. The ripple effects could help the Conservatives to remain in power at next year's general election by making voters feel richer as bills fall - while hurting Scotland's oil-reliant economy and setting back its campaign for independence.
from Midwest Energy News:
Minnesota will 'get the ball rolling' on community solar today
Expectations are high today as Minnesota's largest utility begins accepting applications for community solar projects at 9 a.m. today. It's anyone guess show many solar garden developers will submit on the first day of business for Xcel Energy's Solar Rewards Community program. Some developers have already marketed and sold out projects that have been not formally approved... Community gardens allow customers to buy panels or subscriptions from developers who manage and operate the systems. Customers can buy up to 120 percent of their energy needs, or as little as one panel. They receive a credit on their utility bills based on the output of their panels.
from London Independent:
Organic farming can feed the world if done right, scientists claim
Organic farming is much more productive than previously thought, according to a new analysis of agricultural studies that challenges the conventional "biased" view that pesticide-free agriculture cannot feed the world. The study says that organic yields were only 19.2 per cent lower, on average, than those from conventional crops and that this gap could be reduced to just eight per cent if the pesticide-free crops were rotated more frequently. Furthermore, in some crops - especially leguminous plants such as beans, peas and lentils - there were no significant differences in yields, the researchers from the University of California, Berkeley found.
from Globe and Mail:
China at forefront of clean-energy market
China has emerged as the leader in the race to dominate the fast-growing, global clean-energy market, an economic strategy that promises to deliver huge dividends as world governments work toward an agreement to rein in greenhouse gases in the battle against climate change. China is leaving its competitors in its wake as all countries look to gain advantage in the emerging low-carbon economy, according to new analysis by Ottawa consultant Céline Bak.... In each case, China saw stunning growth. Its sales of renewable energy technology grew to nearly $120-billion (U.S.) last year from just $20-billion in 2003. American exports in that renewable energy category grew to $45-billion from $25-billion.
Environment Canada Study Reveals Oilsands Tailings Ponds Emit Toxins to Atmosphere Five Times Higher Levels than Reported
There are more than 176 square kilometres of tailings ponds holding waste from oilsands development in the area around Fort McMurray, Alberta. According to new research released from Environment Canada, those tailings ponds are emitting much higher levels of toxic and potentially cancer-causing contaminants into the air than previously reported. As the Canadian Press reports, Environment Canada scientist Elisabeth Galarneau is the first to conduct field studies in the region and her research confirms that previous estimates of chemical release into the air have been massively underestimated. "We found that there actually does appear to be a net flow of these compounds going from water to air," Galarneau told the Canadian Press. "It's just a bit under five times higher from the ponds than what's been reported."
from New York Times:
Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventional Fuels
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.
Can We Overcome Our Disgust Long Enough to Eat Bugs?
...Along with tasting good, insects are full of health benefits. Studies have shown that bugs are high in protein, calcium, zinc, iron and vitamin A. They are also easier to farm than livestock, use less water and emit fewer greenhouse gases. A 2013 report by the United Nations's Food and Agriculture Organization touted the benefits of eating bugs to fight world hunger and reduce pollution. Getting insects on Westerners' plates, though, is no easy task, requiring innovative strategies to overcome a deeply embedded cultural aversion to insects.
from New York Times:
U.S. and China Reach Climate Accord After Months of Talks
BEIJING -- China and the United States made common cause on Wednesday against the threat of climate change, staking out an ambitious joint plan to curb carbon emissions as a way to spur nations around the world to make their own cuts in greenhouse gases. The landmark agreement, jointly announced here by President Obama and President Xi Jinping, includes new targets for carbon emissions reductions by the United States and a first-ever commitment by China to stop its emissions from growing by 2030... A climate deal between China and the United States, the world's No. 1 and No. 2 carbon polluters, is viewed as essential to concluding a new global accord.
from Jen Sorensen, via DailyKos:
The Globola Crisis
from Environmental Health News:
BPA in the air: Manufacturing plants in Ohio, Indiana, Texas are top emitters
As concerns mount over people's exposure to the plasticizer bisphenol A in everyday products, it's also contaminating the air near manufacturing plants: U.S. companies emitted about 26 tons of the hormone-disrupting compound in 2013. Although research is sparse, experts warn that airborne BPA could be a potentially dangerous route of exposure for some people. Of the 72 factories reporting BPA emissions, the largest sources are in Ohio, Indiana and Texas, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's Toxics Release Inventory.
from New York Times:
Pentagon Signals Security Risks of Climate Change
The Pentagon on Monday released a report asserting decisively that climate change poses an immediate threat to national security, with increased risks from terrorism, infectious disease, global poverty and food shortages. It also predicted rising demand for military disaster responses as extreme weather creates more global humanitarian crises. The report lays out a road map to show how the military will adapt to rising sea levels, more violent storms and widespread droughts. The Defense Department will begin by integrating plans for climate change risks across all of its operations, from war games and strategic military planning situations to a rethinking of the movement of supplies.
from Des Moines Register:
MidAmerican expands Iowa wind foothold
Iowa's reputation as a leader in wind energy production got another boost Friday when MidAmerican Energy announced plans to invest an additional $280 million in the renewable energy. The Des Moines-based utility will add 67 wind turbines at two western Iowa locations... Iowa is one of the leading states in the production of wind energy. More than 27 percent of the state's energy comes from wind, the highest state percentage in the nation, according to a 2014 report by the American Wind Energy Association.
from InsideClimate News:
Shift to Low-Carbon Economy Could Free Up $1.8 Trillion, Study Says
A pair of new studies are part of a growing international effort to assess the costs and benefits of moving on from burning fossil fuels to clean energy.... One report finds that ridding our electricity and transportation systems of carbon could free up trillions of dollars for investment in green energy. Decarbonizing the electricity system, it finds, would save $1.8 trillion over the coming two decades by avoiding the high operating costs of using fossil fuels--coal and natural gas--to generate power. The lower operating costs of wind and solar electricity would offset the higher financing costs of renewables, as well as the write-offs of existing assets like coal plants that would have to be shut down.
from Associated Press:
School's solar water-heating system gives students real-life lessons in energy conservation
An Indian Creek High School science teacher couldn't have asked for a more timely lesson to be placed down the hall from his classroom. Tracy Hunter teaches his 10th-grade environmental science students about energy conservation and alternative energy systems. A prime example of both was just installed at the high school: a solar water-heating system that can save the school as much as $1,500 per month on its heating bill.
from Huffington Post:
Save the Humans
...Each year, the U.S. grows and kills about 10 billion livestock animals. Globally, we're raising and slaughtering about 56 billion animals animal agriculture each year. If you do the math, that means we're killing 1,776 animals for food every second of every day. That doesn't even include fish and other seafood. But even though I'm a vegan for ethical reasons, I don't want to write about the animal ethics of animal agriculture. I want to write about the ways in which animal agriculture is killing us and ruining our planet.... The U.N. released a conservative report wherein they stated that animal agriculture causes about 18 percent of current greenhouse gas emissions.
from George Monbiot, in The Guardian:
It's time to shout 'stop' on this war on the living world
... We care ever less for the possessions we buy, and dispose of them ever more quickly. Yet the extraction of the raw materials required to produce them, the pollution commissioned in their manufacturing, the infrastructure and noise and burning of fuel needed to transport them are trashing a natural world infinitely more fascinating and intricate than the stuff we produce. The loss of wildlife is a loss of wonder and enchantment, of the magic with which the living world infects our lives.... A system that makes us less happy, less secure, that narrows and impoverishes our lives, is presented as the only possible answer to our problems. There is no alternative - we must keep marching over the cliff. Anyone who challenges it is either ignored or excoriated. And the beneficiaries? Well they are also the biggest consumers, using their spectacular wealth to exert impacts thousands of times greater than most people achieve. Much of the natural world is destroyed so that the very rich can fit their yachts with mahogany, eat bluefin tuna sushi, scatter ground rhino horn over their food, land their private jets on airfields carved from rare grasslands, burn in one day as much fossil fuel as the average global citizen uses in a year.... Is this not the point at which we shout stop? At which we use the extraordinary learning and expertise we have developed to change the way we organise ourselves, to contest and reverse the trends that have governed our relationship with the living planet for the past 2m years, and that are now destroying its remaining features at astonishing speed? Is this not the point at which we challenge the inevitability of endless growth on a finite planet? If not now, when?
from ABC :
Obama Creates Largest Marine Reserve In the World
President Obama today will sign a proclamation creating the largest marine reserve in the world - three times the size of California, totaling 490,000 square miles... The designation bans commercial fishing, dumping and mining in the national monument's waters, home to "deep coral reefs, seamounts, and marine ecosystems unique to this part of the world among the most vulnerable areas to the impacts of climate change," according to the White House. Environmental groups are calling this a "historic" move to protect precious wildlife....He has used his authority to designate more acres of federal land and sea environmentally-protected areas than any other president in the last five decades.
from New York Times:
Companies Are Taking the Baton in Climate Change Efforts
With political efforts to slow global warming moving at a tortuous pace, some of the world's largest companies are stepping into the void, pledging more support for renewable energy, greener supply chains and fresh efforts to stop the destruction of the world's tropical forests. Forty companies, among them Kellogg, L'Oréal and Nestlé, signed a declaration on Tuesday pledging to help cut tropical deforestation in half by 2020 and stop it entirely by 2030. They included several of the largest companies handling palm oil, the production of which has resulted in rampant destruction of old-growth forests, especially in Indonesia... Several environmental groups said they were optimistic that at least some of these would be kept, but they warned that corporate action was not enough, and that climate change could not be solved without stronger steps by governments.
from National Geographic:
New Reports Offer Clearest Picture Yet of Rising Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Two days before the UN Climate Summit in New York, three new studies paint the clearest picture yet of rising greenhouse gas emissions and the dwindling opportunity for staving off the worst impacts--and also of at least one way that huge undertaking might be shared fairly among the nations of the world.... In Nature Geoscience, Friedlingstein and his colleagues write that the world has already used up two thirds of the CO2 emissions quota that scientists say will keep the planet from warming more than 2?C (3.6?F). Beyond that temperature threshold, serious consequences are expected from sea-level rise and widespread disruption of weather patterns.... The researchers consider two basic principles for distributing the global emissions quota: "inertia," under which countries would continue to emit the same share of global emissions as they do now, and "equity," under which countries would be allowed to emit according to their population, with per capita emissions being the same everywhere.
Rockefellers to switch investments to 'clean energy'
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund is joining a coalition of philanthropists pledging to rid themselves of more than $50 bn (?31 bn) in fossil fuel assets. The announcement will be made on Monday, a day before the UN climate change summit opens on Tuesday. Some 650 individuals and 180 institutions have joined the coalition. It is part of a growing global initiative called Global Divest-Invest, which began on university campuses several years ago, the New York Times reports. Pledges from pension funds, religious groups and big universities have reportedly doubled since the start of 2014.
from E&E Publishing:
U.S. schools quickly climbing learning curve in solar power
America's K-12 schools are among the fastest adopters of solar power in the United States, with an estimated 3,000 new solar installations coming online between 2008 and 2012, a fivefold increase, according to a new study from the Solar Foundation and the Solar Energy Industries Association. The output from today's 3,752 solar-equipped schools is on the order of 490 megawatts, enough to power tens of thousands of classrooms while offsetting nearly 443,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, according to the solar organizations, whose findings were published yesterday in a nationwide survey. Moreover, the findings suggest that schools and school systems have shaved millions of dollars from their utility bills by installing solar panels, allowing for greater investment in textbooks, teachers and educational programs.
from Mother Jones:
These Stunning Photos of Greenland's "Dark Snow" Should Worry You
Jason Box knows ice. That's why what's happened this year concerns him so much. Box just returned from a trip to Greenland. Right now, the ice there is... black.... The ice in Greenland this year isn't just a little dark--it's record-setting dark. Box says he's never seen anything like it. I spoke to Box by phone earlier this month, just days after he returned from his summer field research campaign. "I was just stunned, really," Box told me. The photos he took this summer in Greenland are frightening. But their implications are even more so. Just like black cars are hotter to the touch than white ones on sunny summer days, dark ice melts much more quickly.... Box gives the stunning stats: "In 2014 the ice sheet is precisely 5.6 percent darker, producing an additional absorption of energy equivalent with roughly twice the US annual electricity consumption."
Slowing climate change makes economic sense; cities to lead-study
Investments to help fight climate change can also spur economic growth, rather than slow it as widely feared, but time is running short for a trillion-dollar shift to transform cities and energy use, an international report said on Tuesday. The study, by former heads of government, business leaders, economists and other experts, said the next 15 years were critical for a bigger shift to clean energies from fossil fuels to combat global warming and cut health bills from pollution... Unlike past climate change studies which have focused on the risks of inaction, the report seeks to show economic benefits of investments which could also help the environment...
from World Meteorological Organization:
WMO GHG Bulletin: The State of Greenhouse Gases in the Atmosphere Based on Global Observations through 2013
... Yet that buffering reaction consumes CO32-, reducing the chemical capacity of the near-surface ocean to take up more CO2. Currently that capacity is only 70 percent of what it was at the beginning of the industrial era, and it may well be reduced to only 20 percent by the end of the twenty-first century. The current rate of ocean acidification appears unprecedented at least over the last 300 million years, based on proxy-data from paleo archives. Acidification will continue to accelerate at least until mid-century, based on projections from Earth system models.... As a result of increased anthropogenic emissions, atmospheric CH4 reached 253 percent of its pre-industrial level (~722 ppb) in 2013. Atmospheric CH4 increased from ~1650 ppb in the early 1980s to a new high of 1824±2 ppb in 2013 (Figure 4 (a)).
from Common Dreams:
Are You Ready to 'Disrupt'? Climate Movement Readies Global Mobilization
On Sunday night, a new documentary film highlighting the intertwined story of the climate crisis and the growing social movement which has grown in response to it was released online for national screenings that took place in people's home and public meeting spaces. At just under an hour long, the film--titled 'Disruption'--was produced with a stated goal to "galvanize a new wave of climate action and climate leadership" across the globe and comes just weeks before the 'People's Climate March' being organized for New York City that will take place on Sunday, September 21. ... "This is the history we'll tell the next generation -- about the end of fossil fuels, about how the world was in crisis, about how we started to turn it around together."
The similarity between circular economy and water stewardship
How will the new fad - these circular models - improve a company's water management? Circular economies, the theory says, produce virtually no waste, as all raw materials are re-used and recycled continuously to form a closed loop. It's a dramatic shift from our current linear economy, in which we take, make, consume and dispose, drawing regularly on our natural resources to create products that eventually end up as trash. From a conservation perspective, a closed loop system is obviously better for the environment. But is that it? Does it really have the potential to transform business markets? It might. When circular economy thinking is applied to business operations, it is surprisingly synergistic to water stewardship. For both water stewardship and circular models, efficiency isn't the end game. Yes, it's important to reduce the water required to make and dispose of products. Water efficiency also tends to carry additional benefits, such as increased profits and energy savings. But from a natural resources management perspective, there's much more to do.
Icelandic business plans energy bar made of insects
Insects are a staple food in parts of the developing world, but two businessmen from the unlikely location of Iceland are proposing to use them to make energy bars. Bui Adalsteinsson and Stefan Thoroddsen say on their website they got the idea from a UN report suggesting the western world could benefit from using this abundant source of protein, and formed a company to make bars with ground-up bugs.
from US Dep:
Gross Domestic Product, Second Quarter 2014 (Second Estimate); Corporate Profits, Second Quarter 2014 (Preliminary Estimate)
Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 4.2 percent in the second quarter of 2014, according to the "second" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the first quarter, real GDP decreased 2.1 percent.
from Earth Policy Institute:
Geothermal Power Approaches 12,000 Megawatts Worldwide
In 2013, world geothermal electricity-generating capacity grew 3 percent to top 11,700 megawatts across 24 countries. Although some other renewable energy technologies are seeing much faster growth -- wind power has expanded 21 percent per year since 2008, for example, while solar power has grown at a blistering 53 percent annual rate -- this was geothermal's best year since the 2007-08 financial crisis.
from Massachusetts Institute of Technology:
Cutting emissions pays for itself, study concludes
Health care savings can greatly defray costs of carbon-reduction policies, experts report. But just how large are the health benefits of cleaner air in comparison to the costs of reducing carbon emissions? Researchers looked at three policies achieving the same reductions in the U.S., and found that the savings on health care spending and other costs related to illness can be big -- in some cases, more than 10 times the cost of policy implementation.
from The Independent (UK):
Government facing four challenges in bid to tackle climate change, think-tank claims
The IPPR says the Government needs to address four challenges to tackle climate change: the consumer challenge, in overcoming soaring fuel bills and tackling fuel poverty; the capacity challenge, in investing in more decentralised energy generation; the regional challenge, where the economy is recovering at a national level but less so in the regions; and the international challenge, where the EU has "lost its leadership position on climate change" while the US and China have taken steps to clean up their economies. It states: "To date, there has been a large degree of political consensus on the necessity of tackling climate change. Both the Climate Change Act (2008), which set binding targets to cut emissions by 80 per cent against a 1990 baseline by 2050, and the Energy Act (2013), which put in place government policies to encourage investment in low-carbon technologies, received royal assent with cross-party support. "However, these Acts have also had the effect of allowing politicians to avoid confronting the public with some of the trade-offs associated with taking stronger action now to avoid greater costs in the future.
from Mongabay, via DesdemonaDespair:
Twenty percent of Africa's elephants killed in three years - 'We are shredding the fabric of elephant society and exterminating populations across the continent'
Around 100,000 elephants were killed by poachers for their ivory on the African continent in just three years, according to a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Between 2010 and 2012 an average of 6.8 percent of the elephant population was killed annually, equaling just over 20 percent of the continent's population in that time. Elephant deaths are now exceeding births, which on average are 5 percent annually....
Microsoft aims to be greener and drops ALEC membership
Microsoft announced Tuesday that it's cutting ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative public-policy lobbying group. It appears this decision was made due to ALEC's lobbing efforts to block the development of renewable energy. Microsoft had previously been a member of ALEC's Communications and Technology Task Force. In a statement, the company said it has halted all participation in this group.... Microsoft's decision comes on the heels of other major corporations dropping membership with ALEC, including Coca-Cola, General Motors, Bank of America, and Proctor & Gamble. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates stopped financially supporting ALEC in 2012.
Sales of shark fin in China drop by up to 70 percent
... The trade in shark fins, a symbol of wealth in China and other parts of Asia, has led to the decline in some shark populations by up to 98 percent in the last 15 years. An estimated 100 million sharks are killed each year with up to 73 million used for their fins. China became the world's largest market for shark fin due to its rising wealth and desire for luxury goods. However, sales of shark fin have fallen from 50-70 percent, according to a report by WildAid, a US-based organisation focusing on reducing demand for wildlife products. According to data collected by WildAid, sales of shark fin in Guangzhou, considered to be the centre of the shark fin trade in China, have dropped by 82 percent. The report complied data from a number of different sources including news reports, online surveys, undercover interviews with traders in China and trade statistics from Hong Kong, once considered to be the global hub for trade in shark fin.... “The more people learn about the consequences of eating shark fin soup, the less they want to participate in the trade,” said Knights. Pressure from conservationists has also influenced big businesses. A number of large hotel chains have stopped serving shark fin soup and more than 20 airlines have agreed not to transport it. Last year, it was reported that the owners of factories that process sharks in Puqi, a seaside town in Zhejiang province blamed such awareness campaigns for a drop in their business.
from The Register-Guard:
Goals for carbon reduction become law in Eugene
The Eugene City Council voted Monday to put some teeth into previously approved goals to reduce the city's fossil fuel use and carbon emissions. The so-called "climate recovery ordinance," which passed on a 6-2 vote, seeks to cut communitywide fossil fuel use by 50 percent by 2030, compared with 2010 usage. It also calls for city government operations to be entirely "carbon neutral" by 2020, either by reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions or by funding local emission reduction projects.... Mayor Kitty Piercy responded that "science" was the motivation for the ordinance. "What's the cost of not doing something?" she asked.
from Holland Sentinel:
GVSU's MAREC incubator develops commercial-scale solar technology
The company that developed a solar energy panel that addresses one of the major limitations of solar energy has developed a commercial-scale version at Grand Valley State University's Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center, according to an Aug. 6 news release. Solar24, introduced in October 2013 by MAREC incubator client Energy Partners, is a device that collects solar energy during daylight hours, storing it in a built-in, lithium-ion battery pack that allows it to discharge energy 24 hours a day, unlike traditional solar panels.
from Call Newspapers:
Mehlville board to consider resolution against coal energy
If hundreds of Oakville residents who have written to the Mehlville Board of Education get their wish, the board could become the first elected body in Missouri to adopt a resolution against coal energy Thursday.... Since the board's first discussion of the resolution in May, Ameren's board of directors voted to close the Meramec plant in 2022, or perhaps a few years earlier, and the Sierra Club and CLAW have turned their attention to urging Ameren to close the plant sooner. The resolution asks Ameren to completely phase out coal as an energy source and emulate Kansas City Power & Light in using more renewable forms of energy. Power & Light has taken the lead on the use of wind as a power source, according to the resolution.
from US Naval War College, via YouTube:
Jeremy Jackson: Ocean Apocalypse, a lecture at the US Naval War College
In an hour-plus lecture filled with trenchant analysis of current data, and astounding historical comparisons between 1900 and now, Jackson (aka "the James Hansen for the Ocean") overviews how badly, badly we've been treating the oceans -- and how unlikely it is that we can recover them, prior to the consequent collapse of civilization.
from E&E Publishing:
Stanford researchers claim major breakthrough in lithium battery design
A team of Stanford University researchers, including former Energy Secretary Steven Chu, believes it has achieved the "holy grail" of lithium battery design: an anode of pure lithium that could boost the range of an electric car to 300 miles.
from Planet Ark:
California and Mexico sign pact to fight climate change
California Governor Jerry Brown and Mexican environmental officials signed a pact on Monday aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, an agreement that could eventually expand the market for carbon credits. The six-page memorandum of understanding calls for cooperation in developing carbon pricing systems and calls on the partners to explore ways to align those systems in the future. "California can't do it alone and with this new partnership with Mexico, we can make real progress on reducing dangerous greenhouse gases," said Governor Brown.
from Minnesota Public Radio:
Dayton calls for eliminating coal from Minnesota's energy production
Gov. Mark Dayton today challenged a group of energy policy and business leaders to figure out a way for Minnesota to eliminate coal from the state's energy production. Dayton, who has spoken of his aim to eliminate coal before, said it's time to start talking details so that Minnesota could lead the nation. "Tell us what a timeline would look like, what has to happen for that timeline to be met and what kind of incentives or inducements do we need to provide to make that happen," he said.
from Climate Central:
Court Ruling May Reverberate on 'Social Cost' of Carbon
Greenhouse gas emissions from burning and extracting coal, oil and natural gas drive climate change, and as communities feel the effects of a warming world -- rising seas, burning forests and withering crops -- communities' pocketbooks take a hit, too. That's called the social cost of carbon. And if a recent federal court decision stands, the U.S. government may have to calculate those climate-related costs from any new fossil fuels development on public lands before a new project can be approved.
Forest, Trees; Choose Two
In this fascinating video, UBC Professor Suzanne Simard explains how trees are much more complex than most of us ever imagined. Although Charles Darwin assumed trees are simply individual organisms competing for survival of the fittest, Simard demonstrates just how wrong he was. In fact, the opposite is true: trees survive through mutual co-operation and support, passing around essential nutrients "depending on who needs it". Nitrogen and carbon are shared through miles of underground fungi networks, ensuring that all trees in the forest eco-system give and receive just the right amount to keep them all healthy. This invisible web works in a very similar way to the networks of neurons in our brains, and when one tree is destroyed it has consequences for all.
from Reuters, via HuffingtonPost:
Pope Francis Calls Exploitation Of Nature The Sin Of Our Time
"This is one of the greatest challenges of our time: to convert ourselves to a type of development that knows how to respect creation," he told students, struggling farmers, and laid-off workers in a university hall. "When I look at America, also my own homeland (South America), so many forests, all cut, that have become land ... that can longer give life. This is our sin, exploiting the Earth and not allowing her to her give us what she has within her," the Argentine pope said in unprepared remarks. Francis, who took his name from Francis of Assisi, the 13th century saint seen as the patron of animals and the environment, is writing an encyclical on man's relationship with nature.
from Midwest Energy News:
Cincinnati Zoo spotlights solar energy
A giant solar panel canopy is exceeding expectations by cutting electricity costs for the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. At the same time, 1.5 million visitors each year get an up-close look at clean energy. The 6,400-panel solar array covers most of the zoo's Vine Street parking lot. At peak operation, it supplies roughly 20 percent of the Ohio zoo's electricity. As a bonus, the array shades visitors' cars on hot summer days.
EPA's Gina McCarthy calls for all hands on deck in climate fight
In a speech to George Mason University's Washington Youth Summit on the Environment, she argued for a society-wide mobilization to soften the blow of climate change. "It's going to need everybody at the table," she said, addressing an audience of 250 high school students from around the country. "We're going to have to roll up our sleeves."... Yet McCarthy's remarks on Thursday sounded an awful lot like incitement to further grassroots activism, particularly when she discussed the rapid change in federal environmental policy which took place in the '60s and '70s. "It changed as a result of Congress stepping up and saying we can't do this anymore," said McCarthy. "They only stepped up because the people that they served demanded it. Because everybody could see the problems we were facing."
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