Global environmental challenges
That’s what everyone wants to know, and the focus of a lot of research. But parsing through the science can present some problems, with plenty of opportunity for mischief.
Aaron Huertas has been in this game for a while, so he figured there might be problems as soon as he saw the headline on the release from Rice University: “Global warming: Our best guess is likely wrong.”
The text of the release, which was promoting a paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience, noted that climate models can’t explain all of the heating indicated in the geologic record of a warm period some 55 million years ago. And one of the scientists who did the research told Reuters that this could mean current forecasts are underestimating how hot Earth’s atmosphere will get in the future.
But Huertas, press secretary at the Union of Concerned Scientists, figured the initial headline from Rice University might be used by those skeptical about climate change — he calls them contrarians because he feels all scientists are skeptical — to argue that the carbon dioxide generated by human activities isn’t to blame for global warming.
A “gold-rush-like” buzz has spread across Germany in the last week over tentative plans to invest the staggering sum of 400 billion euros to harvest solar power in the Sahara for energy users across Europe and northern Africa. Even though European and Mediterranean Union leaders have been exploring and studying for several years the idea of using concentrated solar power (CSP), the Desertec proposition suddenly captivated the public’s attention a week ago when German reinsurer Munich Re announced it had invited blue chip German companies such as Deutsche Bank, Siemens and several major utilities to a July 13 meeting on the project. The 20 companies aim to sign a memorandum of understanding to found the Desertec Industrial Initiative that could be supplying 15 percent of Europe’s electricity in the decades ahead.
Germany’s deputy foreign minister, Guenter Gloser, has been the government’s point man for the project. I had the chance to talk to him about it.
The tough part for households is that Moody’s expects industrial users to figure out a way to duck the cost with special rates, meaning residential electric customers will carry “the vast majority” of the cost burden. Check out our story here.
While it won’t be an overnight revolution for electricity, eventually plug-in electric cars and trucks will be a step toward the elusive goal, said Ted Craver, chief executive officer of Edison International.
President Barack Obama set in motion a process on Monday that may eventually allow California and other states to set tougher greenhouse gas pollution and efficiency standards on cars than those mandated by the federal government.
Obama’s move sends a signal to the world that the United States is beginning to join the rest of the developed countries to act on emissions blamed for warming the planet.
A carbon fund named “Obama, future” could invest in increased forest coverage in another country and Obama himself could plant a tree there, Lin Hui said in an open letter, published on www.ditan360.com. Lin hopes that country will be China.
It was a disarmingly simple question but, embarrassingly, I didn’t have a clue when first asked that 18 months ago. Even though I’d have to describe myself as a genuine tightwad when it comes to expenditures, I simply had no idea, strangely enough, about how much money my four-person household was spending on electricity — nor how much carbon dioxide was being produced.
Now, after a year of carefully tracking the daily use of electricity, I’ve discovered a bit about when and where power is being used and, in theory, saved — without much pain. It seemed like a no-brainer and it honestly was not hard to cut our consumption by 1,000 kilowatt hours in 2008 to 5,000 kWh — saving about 200 euros and 500 kg of CO2 in the process. There were only minor sacrifices: rigidly turning off “standby” switches and unused lights, pulling plugs on little-used appliances, putting in energy-efficient lightbulbs, using the washing machine sparingly and the dryer only rarely, and replacing an inefficient dishwasher with a low-energy model.
Many people hope to come back from a wildlife safari with close-up pictures of lions or elephants – this picture below is my best attempt from a search for the largest land animals in Antarctica.
If you look hard you can see a reddish blob at the tip of the thumb — it’s Antarctica’s most aggressive land predator, an eight-legged mite known as Rhagidia.
It’s not often that greenhouse gases spewed out by human activities get praise as potential saviours of the planet in a leading scientific journal — they’re normally viewed as villains for causing global warming.
But a study in Nature today shows that heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide can help avert an even worse problem in thousands of years’ time — a shift to a freeze worse than an Ice Age that could blanket much of the northern hemisphere with ice (see picture on the left and story here).
New research shows that both Antarctica and the Arctic are getting less icy – and the best explanation is mankind’s emissions of greenhouse gases.
But will that convert anyone who doubts that global warming is caused by human activities, led by burning fossil fuels?