Scripps Institute of Oceanography projects that next month its monitoring station will for the first time measure CO2 at 400 parts per million. Atmospheric CO2 has risen from 280 parts per million before the Industrial Revolution. 400 ppm is an arbitrary milestone that we'll blow right past on our way to 450 ppm within a few decades. This is an unprecedentedly fast rate of increase and it's getting faster. Not all measuring stations are exactly the same: A NOAA station in the Arctic measured CO2 at 400 ppm last year. [more inside]
Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane have been have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean. [more inside]
Over the past 50 years, the small coastal plain (campo), some 30 kilometers southwest of the city of Almería, has been intensively developed for agriculture. An estimated 20,000 hecatres of extra-early market produce is grown in greenhouses in the Campo de Dalías, and it accounts for over $1.5 billion in economic activity. [more inside]
Building a Green Economy, Paul Krugman on the economics of Climate change.
A solar updraft tower generates electricity with nothing more than a greenhouse and a tall chimney. A 195 meter tall prototype in Spain cheaply operated at 50 kW for years. Now there are plans to build others, including a 40 MW tower, 750 meters tall (near twice as tall as the current tallest structure in the EU). Two others, a 200 MW tower in Australia (previously discussed) or a 400 MW tower in Namibia could become the tallest structure of any kind if built: 1km and 1.5km tall, respectively. Yet even those are dwarfed by the theoretical super chimney which could stand 5km tall and 1km wide. Such a tower would use the Earth's atmosphere itself as the greenhouse, could cause rain, reduce global warming and generate over 300,000 MW of "green" electricity. [more inside]
"A Smart Garage energy paradigm could simultaneously reduce the environmental impact of both the transport sector and the electricity sector. Driving a vehicle that uses electricity creates fewer greenhouse-gas emissions than driving a vehicle that uses gasoline, even if the electricity is made from fossil fuels (such as coal)."
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....
When it's been gray for days and it seems like spring will never come, making a terrarium (sometimes known as a Wardian case) is a good way to keep from going mad. Your own little ecosystem can be set up easily and cheaply in almost any clear-walled, enclosed container -- even a Mason jar or a two-liter Coke bottle. (Inspired by this.)
Earth, 2100 AD. Atmospheric CO2 has doubled to 1000 ppm. From shore to the horizon, there is but an unending purple color -- a vast, flat, oily purple. No fish break its surface, no birds. We are under a pale green sky, and it has the smell of death and poison. Paleontologist Peter Ward's new book links past mass extinctions to global warming and shows, absent major changes, "Our world is hurtling toward carbon dioxide levels not seen since 60 million years ago, right after a greenhouse extinction." Maybe it's time for a heresy: nuclear energy's green, and renewables aren't.
Introducing the world’s first aircraft eco-labelling. While there are certainly several instances of other airlines doing something to off-set the carbon footprint of commercial flying, it is interesting to note that (according to the ATA) flying is the greenest form of mass transportation and ground transportation generates seven times the amount of greenhouse gases as air travel.
More gloomy news on the whole climate change thing. It seems that Greenland's ice caps are melting three times as fast as previously measured (ultimately, in a thousand years or so, leading to a 6.5m sea level rise). While at the other end of the planet, it's not snowing as much as we hoped to limit sea level rises. But hey, we can still laugh about it, right?
CO2 'highest for 650,000 years' Current levels of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere are higher now than at any time in the past 650,000 years. (Found via Treehugger) Sounds like it's time to buy that lovely oceanfront property in Kansas.
US Army auditor who attacked Halliburton deal is fired. Bunnatine Greenhouse, senior Army Contracting Specialist and the highest-ranking civilian at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), who blew the whistle on Halibuton after Halliburton subsidiary Kellog Brown & Root got $12 billion worth of exclusive contracts for work in Iraq has been fired - ostensibly for poor performance. Ms Greenhouse testified in front of Congress (pdf). She asked many questions: Why is Halliburton -- a giant Texas firm that holds more than 50 percent of all rebuilding efforts in Iraq -- getting billions in contracts without competitive bidding? Do the durations of those contracts make sense? Have there been violations of federal laws regulating how the government can spend its money? She said that the decision to award KBR a $75 million extension for troop support in the Balkans was "the most blatant and improper abuse I have witnessed" in 20 years as a government contract supervisor. Last October, she was summoned to the office of her boss. Major Gen. Robert Griffin, the Corps' deputy commander, was demoting her, he told her, taking away her Senior Executive Service status and sending her to midlevel management. She was offered early retirement, but refused. Now she's been fired.
Trees don't suck as much as hoped. In an paper published in the journal Nature, Swiss scientists challenge the belief held by some that rising levels of atmospheric CO2 will make the Earth a greener greenhouse. The belief that forests act as carbon sinks is a key aspect of the Kyoto protocol. Heavily forested nations such as Canada lobbied hard for the recognition that forest and agricultural land management practices that absorb and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere contribute significantly towards achieving the Kyoto greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions limitation and reduction targets. These beliefs may be overstated. "Some scientists and politicians cling to the idea that a carbon-dioxide-rich future might favour the greening of planet Earth. It's time to disillusion them," says Christian Körner, one of the scientists who authored the paper.
New biofuel would combine jet fuel and soya oil to slash consumption of fossil fuel, and help slow the rise in greenhouse gas levels...
Alberta will face a disastrous competitive and economic disadvantage if Canada signs the Kyoto accord. Meanwhile, this year has been one of the worst for smog in Toronto. Some municipalities in Ontario are voluntarily looking towards alternate energy sources because they feel, in the long run the costs will be lower (lower health costs, avoiding higher fossil fuel costs, etc. - sorry, no link) What do you think? Is it possible to have economically viable alternative energy, and is the US setting a bad example for countries that feel they need to compete?