Before and after sattellite photos (along with much more information) of the effects of climate change over the past 30 years are available through UNEP's (the United Nations Environment Programme) Atlas of Our Changing Environment (Via)
Sucking CO2 out of the air has long been a holy grail for solving global warming; Richard Branson has promised $25m to anyone who succeeds. Of course it's already been done, but the amount of energy required doesn't make it net carbon positive. Now a team in Arizona, led by Klaus Lacknet under the company of Global Research Technologies, says it has made a significant breakthrough that massively reduces the amount of energy required - the "project has reached the stage where it is quite clear we can do it." The planned prototype, which will be finished in two years, will cost $200,000 USD, be smaller than a shipping container and be capable of eliminating around 1 ton of CO2. Even if it works many hurdles remain but it portends a cooler future for air-capture technology.
“I can’t express how extremely disappointed I am that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service has chosen to list the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act," Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski said in a statement issued today. [more inside]
The thaw of political ice has freed up data from impressive Russian research projects documenting and analysing the accelerating thaw of real ice. A multi-generational study (Mikhail M. Kozhov, his daughter, her daughter...) of Lake Baikal has unexpectly demonstrated that the lake is warming....At higher latitudes, Sergei Zimov has not just documented the thaw of Siberian permafrost, he is attempting to mitigate it....
Why bother? "That really is the big question facing us as individuals hoping to do something about climate change," by Michael Pollan.
At TED this past March, Al Gore once again presented the Mother of all Power Point Shows. This time around, there is a renewed sense of urgency, with updated slides about Arctic sea ice loss, among other things. More so than in the past, Gore specifically focuses on the necessity for laws to change, and how before that can happen, politics, especially American politics, must change as well. Another theme of Gore's latest TED appearance is how climate change is also a tremendous opportunity for a new heroic generation, to be remembered as the ones who solved the greatest crisis of human civilization.
Earth Hour For one hour tonight, turn off the lights and help conserve energy. Supporters of the plan say it is the equivalent of taking nearly 50,000 cars off the road for an hour. Critics say it's equivalent to taking 6 cars off the road for a year, and claim that media coverage of the effects is greatly exaggerated.
Global warming - good for elephants? The melting of the tundra means that more wooly mammoth remains are surfacing. And this means more mammoth ivory for carvings and other purposes. The linked article says conservationists are happy with this development, as it means ivory for the Asian market coming from extinct species rather than species that are nearly extinct. But is this really the answer?
The locavore movement arose in recognition of the high environmental costs associated with imported food, particularly with respect to global warming (previously). This article from The Guardian (London) suggests that the carbon cost-benefit equation may be very hard to calculate, and that local (at least, without organic) may not always be better. As a planet we seem to be boxing ourselves into a very tight little environmental corner.
About 10% of Iceland is covered by glaciers. Thanks to the ongoing catastrophy of global warming, we Icelanders have noticed drastic changes in our poor glaciers. On of the more concerned individuals regarding this is the now retired physician Leifur Jonsson, who is seen in this report by National Geographic. The report does not contain, however, the story about when Leifur almost died on a glacier. In his younger years he got lost in a blizzard, skiied off cliffs and fell 900 feet into the crater of Grímsvötn, an active volcano underneath Icelands largest glacier Vatnajökull. Decades later, two people, also lost in a blizzard, accidentally drove off the same cliffs, as is reported here. The interesting part is that when they were brought to the Emergency Department of Landspitali-University Hospital in Reykjavik, the physician taking care of the was Leifur...
The revenue-neutral carbon tax: an idea whose time has come? The British Columbia government has just introduced a carbon tax, starting at $10/tonne in July 2008 and rising to $30/tonne in 2012. All revenues from the tax (close to $2 billion over three years) will be returned to taxpayers in the form of income tax cuts, reducing income and corporate taxes to the lowest levels in Canada. Details from the BC budget. Globe and Mail. [more inside]
Some time this month, French wine will once again be transported by sail. As the Guardian reports today, French vineyards concerned about climate change are about to make life much easier for oenophiles wishing to reduce their carbon footprint. Later this month, the Belem, a 19th century barque will sail from Languedoc to Dublin with 60,000 bottles of Bordeaux. [more inside]
A Solar Grand Plan: By 2050 solar power could end U.S. dependence on foreign oil and slash greenhouse gas emissions. [Via Gristmill.] [more inside]
Biofuels worsen global warming, according to two studies published in Science last week. Current US biofuel policies would double carbon emissions over the gasoline alternative. More details: ScienceExpress fulltext pdf of study #1, powerpoint summary of study #1, abstract of study #2, summary of both, policy recommendations pdf (via: 1, 2). [more inside]
In all its 55 year history, MAD magazine has been known much more for media satire than political satire... anything political was often camouflaged as a movie or TV parody and generally less partisan than most. (How can you take their politics seriously when they offered Alfred E. Neuman for President?) Another thing about MAD is how rarely it goes outside its "Usual Cast of Idiots" for content. Well, things have changed, as the MAD editors used 10 Pulitzer Prize Winning Op/Ed Cartoonists to illustrate the incendiarilly-titled “Why George W. Bush Is in Favor of Global Warming”. The usually web-shy MAD even allowed the New York Times to put most of the piece online in a slideshow. [more inside]
Thoreau was into it. Scientists are using it to understand climate change. When Project Budburst starts again on Febraury 15th, you can participate, too. [more inside]
"Intended to deepen our understanding of disputes over climate change and the human contribution to it," the new 'Climate Debate Daily' is brought to you by the folks who created the well-known 'Arts and Letters Daily'. Links to everything from scientific articles through PR releases down to blog entries, are arranged on the page in 'face-off' format, with pros and cons in side-by-side columns. If you want to keep on top of the debate on climate change, it seems that you'll find no better source of information anywhere ..
"So by this analysis dead-tree magazines have a smaller net carbon footprint than web media. We cut down trees and put them in the ground. From a climate change perspective, this is a good thing" explains Chris Anderson, Wired Magazine's editor-in-chief. While some decry this type of carbon footprint accounting as "cheating", the paper industry has lately been eager to convince the public that they are carbon-neutral.
2007 was a year of extreme weather records, and 2008 could be worse, for example an unrelenting southeast drought could be devastating. 2008 will also be Bush's last year, and as the evidence for global warming mounts, Bush's agenda appears to be greening. "If global warming turns out to be a defining issue of this generation, advisers said, Bush does not want to be remembered as a roadblock."
The dangers of living in a zero-sum world economy - naked capitalism reprints (with added commentary) an FT article by Martin Wolf on why it's vital for (civilised) society to sustain a 'positive-sum' world, otherwise: "A zero-sum economy leads, inevitably, to repression at home and plunder abroad." Wolf's solution? "The condition for success is successful investment in human ingenuity." Of course! Some are calling for more socialism, while others would press on to build more megaprojects. For me, at least part of the solution lies in environmental accounting and natural capitalism :P
The new UN Human Development Report is out. Lots of interesting stuff on climate change. But for me, nothing beats the Human Development Index, a number that means different things to different people.
The historically significant* "4th IPCC report on global warming" was published in full last weekend to wide publicity. Part 1 "The Science". Part 2 "The Impacts" and Part 3 "The Solutions" - each about a 1000 page 6 pound brick, but summaries make it accessible. Beyond its gloomy dire warnings and calls for immediate action, observed global measurements of CO2 levels are already worse than the worse case scenarios and some say the report is overly conservative and already outdated. However there is a surprising idea for "solving" climate change (TED) that may be inevitable.
CARMA, released today, is a map/database that shows the carbon emissions of more than 50,000 power plants and 4,000 power companies in every country on Earth, showing not only the worst but the best. Find out how much CO2 comes from electricity plants in a particular city, county, congressional district, company, town, ZIP code, or an individual plant.
300,000 people are stranded due to massive flooding in Tabasco, Mexico. More from UNICEF. Video from Reuters. [more inside]
So you've all heard about how global warming will lead to rising sea-levels, but what about falling freshwater levels? [more inside]
In what it calls "the final wake-up call to the international community," a UN report (press release, website, 21 MB PDF) warns that damage to the environment is reaching a "point of no return" and now threatens "humanity's very survival." Oh, c'mon, tell us what you really think.
Warming Climate Fuels Mega-Fires (11-minute video) 60-Minutes reports. "Recently there has been an enormous change in Western fires. In truth, we've never seen anything like them in recorded history. It appears we're living in a new age of mega-fires -- forest infernos ten times bigger than the fires we're used to seeing."
Georgia's going dry -- and we're not talking liquor stores. Record temperatures in Georgia and a long drought have left many Georgia cities wondering when the taps will run dry. Some towns have only a few weeks of water left, while rivers near Athens have nearly dried up. A broken water main hasn't helped the problem, and some fear that the University of Georgia campus there may shut down for lack of water. What's more, Atlanta itself is already feeling the pressure, as Lake Lanier, a water source for 3 million residents, falls by 1.5 feet per week and has only a three month supply remaining. While there have been more severe (pdf) droughts in Georgia's history, rising population numbers have increased demand to now unsustainable levels.
Video (8MB, MPEG) of arctic sea ice extent, recorded from January to September 2007. [other formats] This summer a dramatic decrease compared to previous years in the extent of the north pole ice cap was observed. Scientists are freaked out [bugmenot]. This summer, the Northwest Passage was open for a few weeks, allowing three ships to traverse it. [more inside]
Venter made an artificial chromosome and may have already created artificial life in his lab. Is it a solution for global warming, or a plot for world domination? Anyway, it's a lot to think about and discuss.
A record number of floods, droughts and storms around the world has been characterized as a climate change "mega disaster" by a senior UN official, a measure based on 13 emergency "flash" appeals (PDF, map) issued so far this year (pic gallery) - three more than in 2005 which held the previous record. Sir John has expressed frustration at how little media attention in the west is being devoted to what he terms a global "creeping climatic catastrophe".
The Catholic Church is traditionally not seen as a progressive institution, but when it comes to global warming, Vatican City is aiming to become the worlds first fully carbon-neutral state, and the Pope is expected to use his first address to the United Nations next April to deliver a powerful warning over climate change in a move to adopt protection of the environment as a "moral" cause for the Catholic Church and its billion-strong following.
Not ones for subtlety, the Death of Environmentalism guys (previously) are at it again with a Manifesto for a New Environmentalism. Their Apollo Alliance is getting early support from both Clinton and Obama. But it's not the only "new environmentalism" out there. There's this New Environmentalism, while others would include both market-based approaches among the the idols of old environmentalism.
As the global climate changes, agriculture is sure to be affected. The Stern Review explains that "developing countries - in particular the poorest - are heavily dependent on agriculture, the most climate-sensitive of all economic sectors." Working Group II of the IPCC says that: "Smallholder and subsistence farmers, pastoralists and artisanal fisherfolk will suffer complex, localised impacts of climate change (high confidence)." Meanwhile, some important staple crops are especially threatened by rising temperatures (though genetic engineering may help). You can experience a taste of it yourself, with a climate change awareness fast, taking place on Tuesday, September 4th.
The "Great Climate Change Debate" finally on the cover of Newsweek - what's new, you ask? This is the story of the denial that global warming exists and how exactly the science behind the undeniable facts of increasing hurricanes, tsunamis, droughts, heatwaves and monsoons was muddied for profit. Bonus links from the same issue: Timeline of global warming and its denial and a slideshow of images from around the world on the effects but its one of those fancy interactive thingamajigs that doesn't allow it to be linked by an URL so be sure to take a look at it. Extra bonus! Quiz your knowledge on global warming
HighWater Line is a public art installation in New York City that will be a 70-mile chalk line marking the boundary of a 10-foot sea level rise. More pictures under Timeline.
The Climate Engineers. "Efforts to manipulate the climate and weather have a long history of exaggerated claims and beliefs, and a dangerous tendency to become militarized. Even if they succeed, who will control the global thermostat?" Public policy scholar James R. Fleming explores the issues in a Wilson Quarterly article.
The Green Leap Forward "Environmentalism is China’s fastest-growing citizen movement. Beijing isn’t cracking down on these new activists—it’s empowering them."
Unnatural Disaster: Global Warming and Our National Parks (PDF). A new report from the National Parks Conservation Association explores the impact of global warming on America's national parks. [Via Gristmill.]
Personally, I always thought the whole global warming thing was a little bit overblown. Got to admit this guy makes a very compelling argument without debating any details. (via)
vivoleum ExxonMobil has hit upon a novel and renewable source of fuel "Attendees paid 50 dollars a head to hear a speech from the National Petroleum Council, a group that also advises the White House on oil and gas matters. It was rumoured a new joint energy policy from the Canadian and American governments was coming."
Federal Aviation Administrator Marion Blakey is valiantly fighting European attempts to extend the EU's emission trading scheme to aviation. Those silly Europeans, Ms. Blakey has argued, are so overexcited about global warming that they are even using helicopters with thermal imaging systems to enforce a green tax on outdoor BBQs! Unfortunately for her argument, it turns out that the story she quoted is a complete hoax. Now, unlike Brownie, nobody would ever accuse Ms. Blakey of being a novice. Apart from previous tenures at, among others, the Department of Transportation and the NTSB, Ms. Blakey also founded Blakey & Agnew, a "public affairs" firm with a special focus on transportation issues.
SUV sales are up. In spite of higher gas prices and concern about global warming, Americans still want bigger cars. It might not be enough to save the Hummer H2, though.
The Canadian government has released its new Turning the Corner plan for regulating greenhouse gases, setting mandatory intensity-based emission targets (18% reduction over three years) for major industrial sectors. Firms exceeding their targets will be required to pay $15/tonne starting in 2010. Expected cost: $7-8B per year, offset by an expected $6B benefit from improved health. Kyoto targets won't be reached until 2020, eight years late. Reaction from industry, Alberta, the Opposition. Previous proposal from Opposition leader Stephane Dion. Previously.
Connie Meskimen of Hot Springs, Arkansas has a down-to-earth explanation for climate change! What the scientists and the Fifth Column environmentalists bent on wrecking American industry hope that you'll overlook!