Frustrated with congress' inability or unwillingness to pass comprehensive greenhouse gas regulation legislation and bolstered by a Supreme Court decision upholding the EPA's power to regulate greenhouse gases under the existing authority of the Clean Air Act, President Obama early in his term reversed the Bush administration's position and extended power to the EPA to do the job, partly to provide congressional Democrats with extra leverage to push for a meaningful deal. Fellow Democrat Jay Rockefeller (who recently drew progressive ire by announcing he wouldn't support a push to include the public option during the HCR budget reconciliation process) has helpfully just introduced a bill that would take the power to regulate greenhouse gases away from the EPA yet again.
Climate change could be accelerated by 'methane time bomb' Atmospheric methane levels began rising in 2007, when an Arctic heatwave caused sea ice to shrink significantly. Now new preliminary results suggest levels have continued to rise through 2008 and 2009. The new figures [were] disclosed [earlier this week] at the start of a two-day conference on greenhouse gases at the Royal Society in London. (more here; via).
New maps show US fossil fuel emissions aren't where we thought they were. The Vulcan Project collects more accurate data at a higher resolution than previous studies. Explanatory video. via [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]
Instead of reducing emissions, maybe we can block out the sun. This is a proposal offered by the United States in response to a draft of a UN report on climate change, prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. According to the linked article, the U.S. has resisted a treaty that would involve binding targets for emissions reductions, and is instead pushing for the exploration of techniques for blocking out the sun, including (according to the Sydney Morning Herald article) "putting a giant screen into orbit, thousands of tiny, shiny balloons, or microscopic sulfate droplets pumped into the high atmosphere to mimic the cooling effects of a volcanic eruption." This is via Yale Law professor Jack Balkin, who speculates that there is Biblical precedent for this proposal.
Maybe there's something to this plankton-as-panacea idea? "Gummy bear"-like sea creatures absorb great amounts of carbon before dying and sinking to the bottom of the sea. Previously on mefi: Sustainable oil and Oil from plankton.
The strongest evidence yet that global warming has been triggered by human activity has emerged from a major study of rising temperatures in the world’s oceans. The present trend of warmer sea temperatures, which have risen by an average of half a degree Celsius (0.9F) over the past 40 years, can be explained only if greenhouse gas emissions are responsible, new research has revealed. The results are so compelling that they should end controversy about the causes of climate change, one of the scientists who led the study said yesterday. "The debate about whether there is a global warming signal now is over, at least for rational people," said Tim Barnett, of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. "The models got it right. If a politician stands up and says the uncertainty is too great to believe these models, that is no longer tenable."
Studies confirm global warming underway
Studies confirm global warming underway
Scientists bewildered by sharp rise of CO2 in atmosphere for second year running. "The fear held by some scientists is that the greater than normal rises in C02 emissions mean that instead of decades to bring global warming under control we may have only a few years. At worst, the figures could be the first sign of the breakdown in the Earth's natural systems for absorbing the gas. That would herald the so-called "runaway greenhouse effect", where the planet's soaring temperature becomes impossible to contain. As the icecaps melt, less sunlight is refected back into space from ice and snow, and bare rocks begin to absorb more heat. This is already happening."
Visualizing power plant impact. A nice use of flash to show the impact of electricity generation around the USA. You can zoom in on individual states and then individual power plants. Or you can view the national impact of several regulatory regimes.