(Image source: UNSW Australia)
Every day we search for new, current information regarding global warming and climate change. Information that impacts all of us.
We share links to relevant articles on our Environmental Progress News on a daily basis. Article links are archived here.
March 29, 2017
© malerapaso / Getty Images
Scientists Have Found a Brilliant New Use for Orange Peels
By Mike Pomranz
When we think of “food waste,” we tend to think of things like throwing out bagged salad we accidentally let expire, tossing leftovers we brought home that we never ate, or disposing of an untouched wedding buffet because the bride left the groom at the alter after discovering he had a secret second family living in Sao Paulo. But food waste also comes in more innocuous forms that we often overlook – things like orange peels. Sure, tossing the peel is a natural part of the orange eating process, but just because peels are natural, that doesn’t prevent them from ending up in landfills. However, a team of researchers believes they’ve found a use for all that excess citrus waste – developing a method for using peels to create a water filtration system.
According to the University of Granada, scientists from the Spanish college, together with Mexican researchers, have figured out a way to turn leftover citrus peels from fruits like oranges and grapefruits into a new absorbent material that’s able to clean wastewater by filtering out heavy metals and organic pollutants. Though these peels might seem innocent enough, the university stresses that the global fruit industry produces 38.2 million tons of these inedible fruit outsides every year. As Modern Farmer points out, peels can be an especially pesky problem for companies who make products like orange juice and orange concentrate that then have to deal with this waste on an industrial scale.
March 28, 2017
How Morocco’s Vision of Sustainability is Rooted in Cultural Preservation
By Dr Yossef Ben Meir
There are a number of sustainable development programs and policies in Morocco that display innovation and promote social solidarity. These participatory democratic initiatives are designed to catalyze people’s development and meeting multiple human needs at the same time. For example, the Municipal Charter of the nation requires the application of participatory methods for inclusive planning of community projects. Doing so enables new enterprises to address economic, environmental, and social factors and goals in a given region. Another example is Morocco’s Decentralization Roadmap, which harnesses the resources of the national and regional levels in order to achieve locally-identified development priorities.
Since early in his reign, the King Mohammed VI has championed integrating cultural and sustainable development into single movements. The kingdom’s position in regards to the Alliance of Civilizations, for example, embodies the natural chemistry of actions that are both multicultural and developmental, as well as – in the case of the Alliance – meant to improve cooperation among nations. As King Mohammed VI explained in 2008, “That vision consists in making sure culture serves as a driving force for development as well as a bridge for dialogue.”
March 26, 2017
Sustainability: A New Path to Corporate and NGO Collaborations
By Joshua Cramer-Montes
The convergence of shifting CSR trends, untapped NGO value, and pressing development challenges holds tremendous potential for driving social impact and business innovation.
In 1953, Howard Bowen laid the foundation for the modern era of corporate social responsibility (CSR) by asking what responsibility—if any—businessmen had to society. In the 60-plus years since, the social contract between business and society has grown increasingly long and more inclusive.
Between the 1950s and 1970s, CSR took shape in the form of pre-corporate philanthropy, a largely disparate approach involving support for domestic nonprofits at the discretion of CEOs with little transparency or oversight. In the 1980s, intense foreign competition and a greater focus on shareholders led many publicly traded corporations to adopt more stringent quality and cost controls. This created greater demands to tie corporate philanthropy to financial performance through efforts like cause-related marketing and practices more aligned with a company’s business. Throughout the 1990s, CSR became more international in scope, but was typically reactive in nature and often a response to negative publicity. During this time, a holistic, triple-bottom-line accounting framework of sustainability also began to emerge. Since the 2000s, CSR has grown increasingly strategic, and a broader concept of sustainability has gained ground.
March 25, 2017
Photograph: Scott Oates for the Guardian
Music to our ears: sustainability headlines Womadelaide festival
For all the good vibes and communal spirit, when it comes to environmental sustainability there isn’t a great deal to celebrate about the average music festival.
As anyone who has gazed upon the aftermath of one can attest, these orgies of consumption typically leave in their wake a trail of plastic cups and dumped tents strewn about a wasteland of churned earth.
And that’s just the visible impact – there are also the carbon emissions of transporting stage infrastructure, performers, crew and of course fans to the festival site, not to mention the ravenous energy consumption of gigantic light and sound systems often powered by dirty diesel generators.
In Australia festivals have been working to clean up their act, from Melbourne’s Off the Grid capitalising on the solar power of the summer solstice, to the Byron Bay Surf festival banning plastic, to Victoria’s Meredith music festival doing the impossible and creating good out of a festival toilet by using human waste for compost.
March 24, 2017
How Recycled Water Could Revolutionise Sustainable Development
By Tamara Avellán
By 2025, absolute water scarcity will be a daily reality for an estimated 1.8 billion people. The Conversation
In a world where vital resources are increasingly scarce, nations cannot afford to flush them down the drain. But that is exactly what we do. After we use water in our homes and businesses, it is washed away, and takes many valuable resources with it.
Waste water is rich in carbon and nutrients and – if collected and treated properly – it could provide new water, fertiliser, and energy. A number of nations and major cities have already built sophisticated waste-water treatment plants that effectively recover nutrients and bioenergy, and produce “new water” that can be reused. But more than 80% of all waste water still currently flows into natural ecosystems, polluting the environment and taking valuable nutrients and other recoverable materials with it.
March 23, 2017
Sustainable Start-ups Changing Our World For The Better
By Susan Devaney
We are willing to bet that if every start-up business in the near future considered sustainability first, the whole world would benefit.
According to the European Business Awards, since the financial crisis of 2008, the rate of new businesses starting up in the EU is three times faster than in the USA. We are entrepreneurial, innovative, creative – and going green. And if these recent start-ups are anything to go by then it won’t be long before sustainability is at the core of every new business.
Not just your average farm:
The city of Bristol is quickly becoming a power player in sustainability. So it comes as no surprise that start-up Grow Bristol, founded by Dermot O’Regan and Peter Whiting, is both sustainable and engaging with the local community. Made from recycled shipping containers, the urban farm applies innovation while sustainably farming fish and growing salad vegetables. They then sell their produce directly to customers and the city’s restaurants.
March 22, 2017
Sustainability for a Vulnerable Ocean
By Peter Neill
We have done our worst to despoil the land; are we really prepared to destroy the global ocean and all its potential for sustaining us into the future?
Our mission with the World Ocean Observatory is to advocate for the ocean through information and educational services. We do so in myriad ways: through these blog posts; a weekly radio program; an aggregated video channel; a digital magazine; a virtual aquarium; a monthly newsletter; online exhibits; a sharing space for classrooms; relentless social media; this blog; and the World Ocean Forum — a writers’ arena providing the best new voices with the best new ideas a place to share ocean solutions. The idea is to demonstrate the vast connection of the sea to every aspect of human endeavor, how the ocean nurtures us, and will provide for our future — if we will let it.
This relentless advocacy requires constant and varied activity, lots of bits and pieces that taken together provide content as wide, deep, and dynamic as the ocean itself’
Sometimes the subject seems so vast and varied that no amount of activity can do it justice and, as we see the constantly shifting shape of indifference, frustration abounds. Sometimes, then, it seems useful to review the challenges, the astonishing number of challenges, to the integrity and sustainability of this profound natural resource. Sometimes it serves to hear the names of our enemies read aloud:
March 21, 2017
New biofuel from wastewater slashes vehicle CO2 emissions by 80%
By LACY COOKE
An innovative new project called LIFE+ Methamorphosis is pioneering a new sustainable biofuel for cars. Car company SEAT and water management company Aqualia have transformed wastewater into the alternative fuel. Powered with this biofuel produced during one year at a treatment plant in Spain, a vehicle could circumnavigate the globe 100 times.
SEAT and Aqualia came up with a creative answer to the issues of pollution from traditional car fuels – which have led to traffic restrictions in cities like Madrid – and reusing water, a scarce resource. To make their biomethane, wastewater is separated from sludge in treatment plants, and then becomes gas after a fermentation treatment. Following a purification and enrichment process, the biogas can be utilized as fuel. Compared against petrol, production and consumption of the biofuel releases 80 percent less carbon dioxide, according to SEAT. The new biofuel works in compressed natural gas (CNG)-fueled cars.
The project aims to show feasibility at industrial scales through two waste treatment systems. The UMBRELLA prototype will be set up in a municipal waste treatment plant serving Barcelona. The METHARGO prototype will create biomethane at a plant handling animal manure. The biogas made with the second prototype can be utilized directly in cars or could be added to the natural gas distribution network, according to the project’s website.
March 20, 2017
Companies Continue Progress in Erasing Deforestation, Human Rights Abuses from Supply Chains
By Sustainable Brands
A wave of efforts to increase transparency and ethics in complex global supply chains in recent years has not only unearthed grave ongoing issues, but a groundswell of private sector commitments to address them. Two that have risen to the forefront of concern for multinationals are deforestation and human rights abuses.
Greenpeace reported today that industry giants Mars and Nestlé have announced that they will take steps to ensure their pet food supply chains are free of human rights abuses and illegally caught seafood. Their commitments to enact standards on transshipping at sea increase the need for global seafood giant Thai Union Group, one of the world’s largest and likely most contentious seafood companies and a supplier for both companies, to eliminate any outstanding risks of human rights abuses and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in its own supply chains.
Nestlé has committed to a full ban on transshipment at sea in its supply chains, while Mars has committed to suspend the use of transshipped products in its supply chains if its seafood suppliers cannot adequately address the human rights and illegal fishing issues associated with the practice in the coming weeks.
March 19, 2017
Chocolate just became way more environmentally friendly, so snack on
By AMANDA MALAMUT
Chocolate is one of the most delicious things in the world. It’s sweet and delicious. But unfortunately, producing chocolate affects the environment. Luckily, chocolate brands are joining together. Their plan is to make chocolate more environmentally friendly.
The production of cocoa causes deforestation. Which is obviously not great. Because of this, the CEOs of major chocolate companies are working together. Most of all, they want to change how they source cocoa.
Because the last thing we want is to feel guilty about eating chocolate.
Why would we feel guilty? Because a 7-ounce bar of milk chocolate produced from a cleared rainforest has the same carbon dioxide emissions as driving 3.2 miles in a car. Furthermore, a dark chocolate bar of the same size has the same emissions as driving 4.9 miles. Wow!
March 18, 2017
[Photo: ronstik/iStock, Pattern: Softulka/iStock]
What If We Could Deal With Landfills By Turning Them Into Clean Energy?
By BEN SCHILLER
While the world may be running short on certain key resources, including fresh water and rare metals like iridium, one resource is as abundant as ever: trash. The World Bank projects the global municipal waste stream to hit 2.2 billion tons per year by 2025, up from about 1.3 billion tons now.
Conceptualizing trash as a resource may be key to reducing its burden on communities, particularly in developing countries where landfills tend to be located closer to living areas. (In America, landfills are normally placed at the edge of cities and towns). If we can find ways of mining trash for precious commodities or turning it into energy, we could both reduce the size of the piles and create something useful. More to the point, repurposing trash would curb greenhouse gas emissions. Landfills are a significant source of methane, a pollutant many times more harmful to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
March 17, 2017
What Will it Take to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals?
By HELEN CLARK
World leaders unanimously approved the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that lie at the heart of that agenda lay out an ambitious plan of action for peace, prosperity, and environmental sustainability.
The SDGs build on the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that preceded them, and aim to complete what they did not achieve. The MDGs galvanized development, and there was significant progress in a number of the areas they targeted.
The SDGs, however, go further in advocating a paradigm shift in the way we think about and do development. They are broader in scope and more aggressive in ambition than the MDGs were. They are universal and designed to be integrated and indivisible. They are underpinned by a cornerstone pledge that no one will be left behind in development. They offer a blueprint for a world free of the worst effects of climate change, where extreme poverty is a thing of the past and the future is more secure and more hopeful for everyone.
March 16, 2017
(Kenneth Chamberlain, courtesy of Ohio State University)
From Trash To Treads: Turning Tomato Peels and Eggshells Into Tires
By Randy Rieland
Scientists at Ohio State University are replacing the petroleum-based filler in tires with food waste.
Back when she lived in California, Katrina Cornish found herself wondering about those open trucks she saw carrying big loads of ripe tomatoes. Why, she thought, weren’t the tomatoes on the bottom crushed into big red puddles.
The reason, she would later learn, is that the tomatoes were bred to have tough skins that allowed them to withstand all that weight from above.
That bit of knowledge would come to serve Cornish well after she moved to Ohio State University, where she is a biomaterials researcher. Recently, she and her research team discovered that not only those tough tomato peels, but also crushed eggshells, can be effective replacements for the petroleum-based filler used in car tires.
March 15, 2017
How a 94-Year-Old Genius May Save the Planet
By Kevin Maney
John Goodenough has defied the American tech industry’s prejudice that says old people can’t innovate.
A man old enough to be Mark Zuckerberg’s great-grandfather just unveiled energy storage technology that might save the planet.
John Goodenough is 94, and his current work could be the key to Tesla’s future—much as, decades ago, his efforts were an important part of Sony’s era of dominance in portable gadgets. Over the years, Goodenough has scuffled with Warren Buffett, wound up screwed by global patent wars, never got rich off a headline-grabbing initial public offering and defied the American tech industry’s prejudice that says old people can’t innovate.
March 14, 2017
Oxfam International:Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA
Enough is as good as a feast: Here’s how we can imagine a brighter food future
By Christoph Rupprecht
The World Economic Forum forecasts a bleak outlook for the future of food, with “unchecked consumption” and “survival of the richest” some the likely outcomes in a recent report. But there is a better way, says researcher Christoph Rupprecht.
The World Economic Forum’s 2017 report on the future of food examines what the world’s food systems might look like in 2030. But none of the four future scenarios it presents is particularly attractive. The Conversation
To create a world where everyone can eat well without wrecking the planet, we need better ideas, a rich imagination and the right tools.
The WEF report offers four potential scenarios.
March 13, 2017
Students Providing Ideas for Innovative Solutions to Company-Defined Sustainability Challenges
By GISELLE WEYBRECHT
Continuing on with our theme this month of Student Engagement, this week we focus in on opportunities for students to solve real challenges with real companies, focused on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Breakthrough Innovation Challenge (BIC), a collaboration between PRME and the UN Global Compact, is a year-long programme that brings together young professionals from leading multinational companies to evaluate disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain and Internet of Things, and build sustainable business models addressing the SDGs powered by these technologies. The project is part of a larger UN Global Compact Initiative, Project Breakthrough, which aims to catalyze breakthrough, rather than incremental, corporate innovation to advance the SDGs.
“Disruptive technologies are radically transforming industries and changing many aspects of our lives. The Breakthrough Innovation Challenge brings together leading companies and young innovators to design the sustainable business models of tomorrow. This is an exciting opportunity for students to put their ideas and knowledge into practice.” Nikolay Ivanov Coordinator, PRME Champions
March 12, 2017
Recycling still a major gap in sustainability efforts
By Samihah Zaman
Green audits presented at conference highlight the need to improve recycling efforts on campuses.
Abu Dhabi: While the UAE is expected to produce 29 million tonnes of waste this year, only about 10 per cent of residents in the country actively recycle their rubbish, a senior environmental expert said in the capital on Thursday.
Recycling is therefore a major focus of campus sustainability initiatives, especially as a number of self-audits undertaken at universities have found that on-campus recycling is still rather limited, said Fozeya Al Mahmoud, director of environment outreach at the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD).
“A big reason why people exert very little effort towards recycling is because they cannot visualise the amount of waste that is actually generated, as well as how much of it simply lies in landfills. They stay wrapped up in their comfortable lives without seeing how much damage they are doing to the planet,” Al Mahmoud told Gulf News.
March 11, 2017
PHOTOGRAPH BY ERMEDIN ISLAMCEVIC
World Legacy Awards 2017
By Costas Christ
National Geographic Traveler magazine recognizes this year’s leaders in sustainable tourism.
The numbers give rise to the reason: There were 25 million international tourists in 1950. Last year, more than one billion globetrotters set out to see the world’s cultural and natural wonders—from the Serengeti’s Great Migration to the ancient Inca cities of Peru. We now have more places to go and more ways to get there than ever before. With that comes an even greater responsibility to safeguard our fragile planet for future generations.
At National Geographic, we believe in the power of exploration to make the world a better place. And that conviction is why we launched the World Legacy Awards—to honor the travel visionaries of today who blaze the trail to a better tomorrow, based on environmentally-friendly practices, saving nature, protecting heritage, and supporting the well-being of local people. Our partners and sponsors include ITB Berlin, the Botswana Tourism Organisation, Adventure World, and the TreadRight Foundation. But at the core of our mission are fellow sojourners like you who share our passion for experiential travel and, yes, fun on the road, too.
March 10, 2017
Five reasons why sustainability improves the bottom line
By Jeremy Luedi
Sustainability issues have long been regarded as an afterthought, or as a ancillary plugin tacked onto a wider business model. Approaching sustainability with such a mindset is a recipe for disaster, as sustainability has become a core requirement in all aspects of business planning. By focusing on sustainable business models, firms are able to mitigate a host of risk factors. This reduced risk profile in turn translates into easier access to capital, as sustainable investment portfolios have rapidly become must haves for both private and public sector investors.
Sustainability can be a daunting concept, especially for legacy firms: it is easy to get wrong, and its benefits are often not immediately apparent. Lauren Turner, research and outreach coordinator at Canadian Business Ethics Research Network (CBERN) highlights this conundrum.
March 9, 2017
Image: Sam Valadi, CC BY 2.0
Do financial markets care about sustainability?
By Hannah Koh
Financial markets have shown they do not reward companies that embrace sustainability, said Sindicatum’s Assaad Razzouk at an event in Singapore recently. Asia’s sustainability crowd was not amused.
Until such time as fossil fuel companies cannot be listed on stock exchanges and consumers only make low-carbon choices, the financial market will not reward companies for being sustainable, Sindicatum Sustainable Resources’ CEO, Assaad Razzouk has said.
He and fellow panelists – JD Kasamoto from document management provider Ricoh and Agung Laksamana, director of corporate affairs from pulp and paper giant APRIL – were speaking on a panel themed “Will businesses drive the SDGs?”, but the conversation was dominated by whether the capital market generates returns for sustainable companies.
March 8, 2017
What Will It Take To Keep Plastic Out Of The Oceans?
By BEN SCHILLE
Something like 9 million tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans every year, and, at current rates, the problem is likely to get worse before it gets better. As developing countries expand, they tend to consume more packaged goods while failing to implement adequate collection systems. By 2050, there could be more plastic in the water than fish, according to one estimate.
Forty years after the first recycling symbol appeared, only about 14% of plastic is currently recycled. But by redesigning packaging along circular economy principles, reusing more plastic bags, and by investing in recycling infrastructure, it should be possible to get that number nearer 70%, a new report estimates.
March 7, 2017
Build a Greenhouse from Old Recycled Windows
By Gary and Gina Blocker
We garden, can, and preserve as much food as possible each year. We wanted a greenhouse to grow plants from seed and have fresh vegetables in the winter. However, we didn’t want to spend big money for a prefabricated structure. Instead, we came up with the idea to salvage and repurpose old windows, doors, and scrap lumber for our own “green” greenhouse.
Our first job was to find old windows and doors. We searched local papers, asked friends, and visited sites where houses were being remodeled or demolished.
When we had what we thought would be enough windows and old sliding glass doors for our planned 10-by-10-foot greenhouse, we laid out the windows in the yard like a puzzle so that we could determine their placement on each wall.
March 6, 2017
Sustainable development has been defined as the balance of economic success, ecological protection and social responsibility. To effectively manage sustainability, a company must be able to measure or otherwise quantify sustainability in each of these pillars.
Many shoppers know the feeling: “I want to buy a decent product that’s good quality, worth the money, and manufactured in an environmentally and socially compatible way.” But finding such a product is not generally easy. Glass or plastic? Petrol or bio-diesel? Chemical or fermentation processing? The results are sometimes surprising.
Though a number of different measurement and valuation methods exist, most of them are focused exclusively on ecological aspects, i.e. impact on climate, forest decline or water. However, methods developed on that basis reflect only a small part of what sustainability is all about: balancing environment, society and economics. The aim of BASF´s analysis methods is therefore to quantify corresponding aspects.
March 5, 2017
Nudge to action: Behavioural science for sustainability
Understanding human decision-making can provide insights on how to design more effective policies on sustainable consumption and production
In Kibera, Africa’s second-largest informal settlement, located in Kenya, researchers were puzzling over the low uptake of a water purification solution. This was a place where water-borne diseases were rampant and sometimes lethal, so why didn’t more residents buy this simple, cheap answer to a chronic health threat?
Even after residents were given discount coupons for the solution, not much changed. So the researchers started looking more closely into behavioural aspects of the process. What actually happened on the way from the water source to their homes?
It turned out that, with households making daily trips to a water source, an extra trip to the store for the chlorine solution felt inconvenient, even though the benefits were well known. Evidence from behavioural science shows that even small hassles can make it difficult to adopt a programme or product.
March 4, 2017
How 5 firms are pursuing sustainability goals in 2017
By Hannah Koh
More companies are using sustainable thinking to get a competitive edge. Here’s what 5 MNCs – Rolls-Royce, Royal DSM, Panasonic, BASF and Henkel – are doing to become more responsible this year.
Think of sustainability and most people think of tree-planting and recycling. But multinational companies that have incorporated resource-light, ethical practices into their operations will attest that the S-word means more than a token corporate social responsibility gesture.
For a number of international giants, sustainability is a key part of their business. Targets are set and performance monitored, as with other key financial performance indicators. Becoming more energy and water efficient trims operating expenditure while carbon-light products and services can plump up the top line. In short, sustainability pays off for business.
March 3, 2017
With high standards in place, Thailand moves toward MICE sustainability
By CIM News Magazine
Hot on the heels of a year of strong and consistent growth, Thailand’s MICE industry looks onward and upward toward new levels of standardisation.
In 2016, the Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) saw great progress with a focus was on bringing the country’s MICE industry up to international standards through the Thailand Mice Venue Standard (TMVS) project.
The TMVS project involves a series of measures that, together, demonstrate to the rest of the world that Thailand is ready and able to host international events of the highest caliber. This in turn strengthens Thailand’s own MICE industry, encourages long-term growth and increases the country’s competitive edge.
Sustainability is a key aspect of the TMVS project and a major topic on the global MICE stage. Thailand’s MICE industry has also seen a significant shift towards sustainability in recent years. Reducing waste, lessening energy consumption, community outreach and utilising recycled materials are just some ways that hotels and meeting venues in Thailand have become more sustainable in 2016.
March 2, 2017
Pixabay – Karl Busamante
Switzerland’s Sustainable Food Scene Is Thriving
By Michael Pellman Rowland
Food production places a considerable strain on our natural resources. In order to meet the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, our food system needs significant change. The Sustainable Food Systems Programme (SFSP) launched by the UN is aimed at accelerating the shift towards a sustainable food system. In October 2015, Switzerland was tasked with co-leading this international initiative.
For those fortunate enough to travel to Switzerland recently, they’d likely find that the restaurant and hospitality scene is already in full swing, having established a variety of sustainability-focused menus. According to Gastro Suisse, eighteen percent of Swiss restaurants offer vegetarian food, and eleven percent offer food prepared vegan. I’ve compiled a list of some of the most impressive gems nestled here in the heart of Europe. Be sure to check them out the next time you’re in the land of snow-capped mountains and dark chocolate.
March 1, 2017
Why the time is right to chart a new sustainability course
By Coro Strandberg
If your sustainability strategy is three or more years old, it’s time for a refresh.
Around the globe, we are facing unprecedented sustainable business issues. From resource constraints and scarcity to the unpredictable forces of climate change, rising income inequality and public expectations, businesses of all kinds are navigating challenging and often stormy waters. Surprisingly, many companies set sail poorly prepared to navigate this sea change.
In contrast, leading companies invest time charting their sustainability course and understanding the ever-changing forces they may encounter.
They prepare and provision accordingly, never losing sight of their destination — a safe harbor for themselves and society.
Transformational companies know that navigating there successfully means being responsive and adaptive along the way: when to raise the sails; when to trim them; when to wait for optimal conditions; and when to prevail.
February 28, 2017
Photo credits: whatsupwiththat.com
Air Pollution Is Putting Tiny Particles in Your Brain, and They’re Toxic
By Vlad Mitrache
It’s not like without this piece of news we would have thought air pollution to be good – or at least not harmful -, but it does add a new dimension to the extent of damage it can cause to our bodies.
Previously, it was believed that nocive particles found in the air we breathe were mainly dangerous to our lungs, and it made sense. If your breathers could talk, they’d probably have something pretty nasty to tell you each time you got in the car, while the more educated would stick to “ride a bike, you lazy marshmallow.”
Well, new research published these past days in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences claims – and can prove – that millions of toxic particles can also be found in our brains. The team analyzed brain tissue from 37 people of all ages (between three and 92) living in two of the most polluted metropolis of this world: London and Mexico City.
The scary results showed a very high concentration of magnetite that, researchers said, went as high as a million particles per one gram of tissue. Magnetite is an iron nanoparticle that has been indirectly linked in the past with Alzheimer’s, as well as other neurodegenerative diseases.
February 27, 2017
Photo credits: Graviky Labs
Start-Up Develops Particle Filter That Turns Pollution Into Ink
By Sebastian Toma
They say that prevention is the best medicine, but it is hard to prevent pollution in an emerging market. An Indian start-up company has devised a way to collect harmful pollution generated by vehicles, and it then turns it into something that humanity can use.
Their idea is to make ink from soot and carbon residue, while also preventing harmful pollutants from entering the air. They have a successful Kickstarter campaign, and the plan is to offer a commercially-available device that will handle the collecting part.
Even if the harmful pollutants were not turned into ink, thus recycling them, the particles would not reach the air and the lungs of the residents of the cities that had its vehicles fitted with the system.
According to its makers, the Kaalink filter can capture as much as 93% of the pollutants emitted by the average internal combustion engine. The creators of the setup declare that it does not affect performance or fuel economy.
February 26, 2017
SAJJAD HUSSAIN / AFP
Bad air quality is a public problem, yet election campaigns in five states were silent on it
By SANGITA VYAS
I learned the hard way last year that air pollution causes pneumonia. Over the past few months, I have realised it must also cause amnesia. Five states went to polls in February, and one issue that was, and is, glaringly missing from many campaigns is air pollution.
According to the World Health Organisation, 11 of the 20 most polluted cities in India are in Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, three of those five states. Polling concluded in the first two states on February 4 and February 15, respectively, while the process in underway in the last state. Given that air pollution is deadly for babies and the elderly, and can make the rest of us sick, it is surprising that more people aren’t clamouring for a breath of fresh air. After the record-breaking pollution highs across North India in November, which sparked protests in the Jantar Mantar area in Delhi, air pollution has largely fallen off the public radar. Why could that be?
February 25, 2017
Credit: L.A. Cicero
The moral element of climate change
By Alex Shashkevich
Lawmakers around the world struggle to create policies that balance their nations’ needs and interests with their impacts on global warming.
Trying to figure out what to prioritize is a tough call for many.
Blake Francis, a doctoral candidate in philosophy at Stanford and a Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center, hopes to help guide those decisions by identifying the harms of climate change and assessing their moral significance.
Through his research, he aims to create a framework that governments could use to evaluate the moral implications of their energy, transportation and other climate change policies in order to consider when it is morally justified for them to emit greenhouse gases.
“We often have debates in climate change about how to trade off benefits and burdens without adequately considering what constitutes benefits and burdens – and whether all burdens are of the same kind,” said Debra Satz, a professor of philosophy and senior associate dean for the humanities and arts. “Blake’s approach introduces an important dimension – not all burdens to people count as harms.”
February 24, 2017
Photo by Tesla
3 More Gigafactories Coming Soon to ‘Change the Way the World Uses Energy’
By Lorraine Chow
At the grand opening of Tesla’s enormous Gigafactory in July, CEO Elon Musk said he wants to build Gigafactories on several continents. He told BBC he wanted a factory “in Europe, in India, in China … ultimately, wherever there is a huge amount of demand for the end product.”
Well, it looks like Musk’s factory-building plans are well underway.
The company said in its fourth-quarter investor letter on Wednesday that it is considering building up to five Gigafactories.
The letter states:
“Installation of Model 3 manufacturing equipment is underway in Fremont and at Gigafactory 1, where in January, we began production of battery cells for energy storage products, which have the same form-factor as the cells that will be used in Model 3. Later this year, we expect to finalize locations for Gigafactories 3, 4 and possibly 5 (Gigafactory 2 is the Tesla solar plant in New York).”
February 23, 2017
Air pollution is the leading environmental cause of death worldwide
By Katie Medlock
A new report shows that air pollution is the leading environmental cause of death in the world – and the number five cause of death overall. China and India lead the way with a combined 2.2 pollution-related deaths in 2015. These rising trends continue to put pressure on governments and industries that could make a difference.
The State of Global Air 2017 report revealed how long-term exposure to harmful, small particulate matter in the air contributed to over 4 million premature deaths in 2015 – the equivalent of 103 million years of healthy life. The study, a combined effort by the Health Effects Institute (HEI) and Institute for Health Metrics and Evalution’s Global Burden of Disease Project, showed China and India as the nations suffering from the most health effects and early deaths due to air pollution. CNBC notes that UK air pollution deaths are also on the rise at 40,000 per year.
February 22, 2017
The Burning Problem Of China’s Garbage
By ROB SCHMITZ
Sitting inside a glass-encased cockpit, two men fiddle with joysticks controlling giant claws outside. They look like they’re playing at a vending machine at a mall, where you try to grasp a stuffed animal. But these are engineers. The claws they’re manipulating are as big as houses, and they’re sifting through hundreds of tons of garbage thrown away by the world’s largest consumer class.
Trash is piling up in China — more than 520,000 tons a day. China’s government has concluded the best way to get rid of it is to burn it at incinerators like this one, the Gao’antun incinerator power plant run by the Chaoyang district of Beijing.
“Our emissions from burning the garbage are well below EU standards, and our technology is ahead of incinerators in the U.S.,” says Chen Hui, the plant’s chief engineer.
This incinerator was opened nine months ago. The heat from burning garbage at more than 1,000 degrees Celsius produces enough electricity to power more than 140,000 homes.
February 21, 2017
Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA
London’s pollution is so bad that it forced me to give up my dream PhD
By Vicky Ware
limit within just five days this year by advising Londoners to remain indoors, limit heavy breathing, and eat vegetables – seemingly everything other than not driving – millions of people are suffering serious health effects from exposure to particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and myriad other pollutants in the air.
Khan said: “Everyone – from the most vulnerable to the physically fit – may need to take precautions to protect themselves from the filthy air.”
Despite these warnings the public seem largely unperturbed – like the frog that stays in water as it’s slowly brought to the boil. In October last year I moved to London to start a PhD at Imperial College, South Kensington. Pollution wasn’t high on my list of worries – affording accommodation and not getting squashed while cycling were bigger fears.
While the mayor of London Sadiq Khan is acting on the fact that London breached its annual air pollution
February 20, 2017
Man points camera at ice – then captures the unimaginable on film
Photographer James Balog and his team were examining a glacier when their cameras caught something out of the ordinary.
The incident took place in Greenland, where James and his mates were gathering images from cameras that had been deployed around the Arctic Circle over the years.
James and his crew were looking for some good shots for an upcoming documentary, but no one was prepared for what would soon unfold in front of their eyes.
February 19, 2017
Another silent spring. (Reuters/B. Rentsendorj)
A scientist explains the very real struggle of talking to climate-change deniers
By Akshat Rathi
The world needs people like Andy Jorgensen, a professor of chemistry and environmental science at the University of Toledo. One of Jorgensen’s jobs is to create educational material on global warming, its impact, and what we can do to fight against it.
In a conversation with Redditors, Jorgensen talked Feb. 14 about the difficulty of communicating climate change and the tricks he employs to convert climate-change deniers. We’ve curated and condensed the best bits for ease of reading.
How do you communicate the scale of the emergency while mitigating panic and hopelessness?
I use the analogy of a fever. The Earth’s temperature has changed about 1.8 °F [1 °C] in recent decades. This is comparable to a child with a fever. It is not life-threatening. But it should not to be ignored. By 2050 middle estimates of temperature increase are almost 4 °F, which would be very serious for a child and about the point at which climate scientists say irreversible changes would occur on Earth. By 2100, the rise could be 6 °F—and remember that this is an average, with the Arctic seeing about twice this. So like the child’s fever, we must act quickly and decisively.
February 18, 2017
image by Joshua Stevens
Using Satellites to Size Up the Severity of Crop Fires in Northern India
By Adam Voiland with Hiren Jethva
When I was writing about the crop fires in northern India last fall, it was obvious that 2016 was a pretty severe burning season. For several weeks, large plumes of smoke from Punjab and Haryana blotted out towns and cities along the Indo-Gangetic plain in satellite images.
But I didn’t realize just how severe the fires were until Hiren Jethva, an atmospheric scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, crunched the numbers. By analyzing satellite records of fire activity, he found that the 2016 fires were the most severe the region has seen since 2002 in regards to the number of fire hot spots satellites detected. In regards to the amount of smoke detected, the 2016 burning was the most severe observed since 2004. He used data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor on Aqua and the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on Aura to reach his conclusions.
Smoke and fire in northern India have become common in October and November during the last three decades because farmers increasingly use combines to harvest rice and wheat. Since these machines leave stems and other plant residue behind, farmers have started to use fire to clear the leftover debris away in preparation for the next planting.
For more details about how 2016 compared to past years, see the charts below, which Jethva prepared. His explanation for each chart is in italics.
February 17, 2017
REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo
Smoke and mirrors: Beijing battles to control smog message
By David Stanway and Sue-Lin Wong
In its ‘war’ on hazardous air pollution, China’s government has a dilemma: it needs to be open about air quality data to hold polluters to account, but worries that too much bad news from alternative, independent sources could stoke public unrest.
Beijing has greatly improved how it collects data, made more of it available to the public and cracked down on misreporting, but it’s concerned about the spread of unauthorized or inaccurate data from popular mobile apps and handheld detectors.
The conflicting approach reflects a broader debate about China’s appetite for political reform. The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP), under a former academic, wants to create a modern regulatory system based on independent monitoring and the rule of law, but that could rub up against the ruling Communist Party’s priority for stability.
After scandals about fraudulent data, the government also worries that alternative sources of information on pollution levels could erode public trust in official statistics, and undermine its message that the environment is improving.
February 16, 2017
photo by Unsplash, Pixaby
India’s Air Pollution Rivals China’s as World’s Deadliest
By GEETA ANAND
NEW DELHI — India’s rapidly worsening air pollution is causing about 1.1 million people to die prematurely each year and is now surpassing China’s as the deadliest in the world, a new study of global air pollution shows.
The number of premature deaths in China caused by dangerous air particles, known as PM2.5, has stabilized globally in recent years but has risen sharply in India, according to the report, issued jointly on Tuesday by the Health Effects Institute, a Boston research institute focused on the health impacts of air pollution, and the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, a population health research center in Seattle.
India has registered an alarming increase of nearly 50 percent in premature deaths from particulate matter between 1990 and 2015, the report says.
“You can almost think of this as the perfect storm for India,” said Michael Brauer, a professor of environment and health relationships at the University of British Columbia and an author of the study, in a telephone interview. He cited the confluence of rapid industrialization, population growth and an aging populace in India that is more susceptible to air pollution.
February 15, 2017
3 circular principles for healthy agriculture
By Hunter Lovins
Proponents of the regenerative economy are realizing that it is dependent on the circular economy of soil. The soil is one of the key natural capitals on which we all depend. Its loss is our demise.
This chapter advocates three ways to move towards regenerative agriculture: return farming systems to harmony with nature’s cycles; make and use biochar; and implement holistic management across the world’s grasslands.
The challenge: climate destructive agriculture
Most of the climate crisis results from burning fossil fuels, but almost a quarter of the problem derives from agriculture. After 150 years of unsustainable practices, the earth’s soil has been depleted.
Modern agriculture worsens climate change. Unchecked, climate change will destroy our tenuous ability to feed ourselves. For every 1 degree Celsius rise in temperature above the norm, yields of wheat, rice and corn drop 10 percent. Given that more than a billion people in the world already suffer from malnutrition, this is serious.
Soil that has been de-carbonized (lost its organic matter) requires large amounts of fossil fuel-based fertilizer if it is to grow crops at industrial scale. Petrochemical use in fertilizer releases greenhouse gasses (GHGs), especially nitrous oxide, a gas 300 times more potent per ton in causing global warming than CO2. Plowing and poor nutrient management release the nitrogen from soils in quantities. When out of place, both carbon and nitrogen, key building blocks of life in nature, are serious threats to the stability of the climate.
February 14, 2017
photo by skeeze, Pixaby
Renewable Energy With or Without Climate Change
By Steven Cohen
The new administration in Washington is dominated by fossil fuel interests and has resumed the mantra of “Drill, baby, drill!.” Deep sea drilling, mining in protected and sometimes fragile environments, mountaintop removal, fracking, and massive pipeline projects are all back on the table. It’s America first, fast, and fossil-fueled. Meanwhile, Germany goes solar, China is investing major resources in renewable energy, and homeowners all over America are saving big money with rooftop solar arrays.
Burning fossil fuels is bad for the environment. Extracting it, shipping it, and burning it all damage the planet. Since almost all human activity damages the planet though, the question is, how much? How irreversible? And can we achieve the same ends with less damage? This last question is one of the arguments for renewable energy. Our economic life is built on energy. It has made human labor less important, human brainpower more important, and made it possible for us to live lives our great-grandparents could not have imagined. The energy use is not going away; most people like the way they live. But our use of energy needs to be made more efficient and less destructive.
February 13, 2017
Greener cities are largest factor in preventing global warming
By Jack Loughran
Greener cities are the most important element in the fight against climate change and sticking to temperature rises agreed upon in the Paris Agreement, according to climate experts.
Signed at the end of 2015 and ratified last year, the deal intends to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
“Whether we win or lose, or (will) be able to really achieve that goal of 1.5°C – that battle will be waged at the city level,” said Milag San Jose-Ballesteros, director for Southeast Asia and Oceania with C40, a network of over 80 cities representing some 600 million people.
World temperatures hit a record high for the third year in a row in 2016, at around 1.1°C higher than before the Industrial Revolution ushered in wide use of fossil fuels. They will likely rise by 3°C or more by 2100 if trends continue, many projections show.
Keeping global warming below 2°C would limit the worst effects of sea-level rise, melting of Arctic sea ice, damage to coral reefs and acidification of oceans, according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
February 12, 2017
Photo credit Pixaby
This Material Can Harvest Energy From the Sun, Heat, and Movement
By Dom Galeon
A RENEWABLE 3-IN-1
First made popular in Asia, 3-in-1 instant coffee makes sense. Instead of adding sugar and cream after its made, just put all three ingredients right in the pack and be done with it. Now, researchers from the University of Oulu in Finland have discovered the 3-in-1 material of renewable energy, so to speak. This one material can simultaneously extract energy from three of the most accessible renewable energy sources at our disposal: sunlight, heat, and movement.
The material is from a family of minerals with a perovskite crystal structure. Perovskites are ferroelectric materials, which means they are filled with tiny electric dipoles similar to the tiny compass needles in a magnet. Accordingly, when ferroelectric materials experience temperature changes, their dipoles misalign and induce an electric current. Electric charge also accumulates depending on the direction in which the dipoles point. Certain regions attract or repel charges when the material is deformed, which also generates current.
February 11, 2017
Biochar: Helps Increase Crop Yields And Mitigates Climate Change
By Matter of Trust
Whenever we hear the word biochar, most of us are thinking that this is not a climate-friendly method since it undergoes combustion process and can aggravate greenhouse effect. Though this is a thousand years old industrial technology technique for soil enhancer, some are still confused if it’s the real deal. Is it, in fact, a too good to be true method for agriculture?
WHAT IS BIOCHAR?
Biochar is a soil amendment is made from biomass through pyrolysis. The method of thermochemical decomposition of consolidated materials at higher temperatures but in the nonexistence or oxygen limited area. To put in layman’s term, this is completed through agricultural waste or any organic material that are heated into very high temperature then decomposed in the absence of oxygen.
One of the examples for using biochar and was known as one of the ancient industrial technology is Terra Preta. It is also known as “Amazonian dark earth” or “Indian black earth,” which is a fertile man made soil found in the Amazon Basin. This extremely dark fertile soil encompasses a fine-grained carbon-rich resource that comes from scorched organic materials like crop residue, manure, and bones that were added to the soil.
In addition to that, Terra Preta is still fertile until today and has led to a wider appreciation of biochar as a soil enhancer that can hold carbon and can result in boosting food security and increasing the soil biodiversity in the world.
February 10, 2017
Asia Sentinel: Trouble in the Air
By Neeta Lal
This winter, the air quality in Delhi plummeted so low – with record levels of the tiniest and the deadliest particles that can enter the lungs and other organs – that even the National Capital Territory’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, was forced to admit that the metropolis had turned into a “toxic gas chamber”.
The city’s thick layer of smog is no longer merely an inconvenience to residents or a danger to asthmatics. J.C. Suri, head of the respiratory medicine department at the government-run Safdarjung Hospital, says Delhi’s air is a “slow poison” that is ruining people’s health.
The Associated Chambers of Commerce of India, the largest business lobby group, estimates that “several billions of dollars” of new investment are under threat. A recent World Bank study shows Asia’s third-largest economy lost 8.5% of its gross domestic product in 2013 due to air pollution.
The major problem is fine atmospheric particulate matter of 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller, measured by the PM2.5 index. Many major Indian cities are badly polluted by that criterion, but Delhi is by far the worst: this winter saw the index exceeding the maximum 999 level recordable, while the World Health Organization’s recommended upper limit is 25. The level on January 30 was 294, garnering a rating of “poor” (levels over 300 are rated as “very poor”.
February 9, 2017
Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
The best and worst countries in the world when it comes to air pollution and electricity use
By Dave Mosher and Skye Gould
China steals an unsavory global spotlight for the thick, noxious smog that often chokes its mega-cities.
Air pollution has become so bad in Beijing, for example, that Chinese officials aim to slash its local coal consumption by 30% in 2017.
Meanwhile, the US — which currently ranks eighth on the list of countries with the lowest air pollution — could be headed in the opposite direction.
President Donald Trump has said that he intends to fulfill his campaign promise of revitalizing the American coal industry, despite the criticism of fossil fuel industry analysts and the rise of affordable sources of renewable energy. Congress is also working to repeal numerous environmental and health regulations.
February 8, 2017
The influence of climate change on fire activity in South Africa
By Sheldon Strydom
Fires are often seen as destructive. But when used properly it can be a force for good. For example, the floral biodiversity of savanna ecosystems is largely driven by fire activity. South Africa’s fynbos region – a floral region with plants unique to South Africa – is also highly dependent on fires to manage water and nutrient resources.
Of course, fire can also have a negative effect on the environment. Air quality can be damaged by the release of carbon monoxide and ozone and the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases during the burning of biomass (organic matter) has been linked to climate change.
Scientists have spent a great deal of time and effort trying to understand fire activity and how it relates to vegetation communities, topography and – of great concern in recent years – climate change.
February 7, 2017
Photograph: Ulet Ifansasti/Getty
100,000 may have died but there is still no justice over Indonesian air pollution
By Elodie Aba and Bobbie Sta. Maria
At the end of last year, her father told an Indonesian court how she had been taken into hospital, and treated with oxygen therapy, then with a defibrillator. Nothing, however, had worked. After a week on a breathing machine, she died in the hospital, her lungs still full of the foul mucus.
It started with a mild cough. Muhanum Anggriawati was just 12 years old when the cough began, transforming within weeks into a violent hacking that brought up a yellowish-black liquid.
Anggriawati is believed to have been one of many victims of the haze, or air pollution, that regularly spreads across Indonesia because of the huge deforestation fires linked to palm oil and other agribusiness.
February 6, 2017
Image by Gabriel Popkin
Mayans Have Farmed The Same Way For Millennia. Climate Change Means They Can’t
By GABRIEL POPKIN
Dionisio Yam Moo stands about four-and-a-half-feet tall, and his skin is weathered from years in the tropical sun. A “proudly Mayan” farmer, he grows corn, beans and vegetables on a six-hectare farm in Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula. The farm is surrounded by dense tropical forest, and crops grow amid fruit trees in thin soil, with the peninsula’s limestone bedrock protruding in places.
Yam Moo farms using a traditional, rainfed practice called milpa, which has long involved cutting and burning patches of forest, planting crops for a few years, then letting the worn-out land regenerate for up to 30 years, before cultivating it again. Milpa has enabled generations of farmers like Yam Moo overcome the Yucatán’s poor, thin soil and grow a stunningly diverse set of crops — multiple varieties of beans, squash, chili peppers, leafy greens, root vegetables, spices and corn, the plant at the heart of Mayan identity.
February 5, 2017
New frontier of bio-tech farming
By Wilfred Pilo
A NEW soil platform, known as living soil, is providing a relatively pristine and inexpensive method to grow plants and rear animals.
By using this new method of bio-technology, it is possible to avoid chemical and harmful inputs in the soil, according to Chan Thye Huat, technical advisor of Satoyama Farm Sdn in Kuching.
At the Farm, living soil is enriched by compost, harvested from there, to generate soil micro-organism activities within this new soil medium. It is through such activities that the symbiotic relationship between plants and micro-organisms is created.
Satoyama Farm uses bamboo biochar as a planting medium but not 100 per cent as 10 to 50 per cent of the biochar is mixed with sand and soil to create a new soil platform known as living soil.
“Basically, it’s bio-technology farming or natural farming,” Chan told thesundaypost.
February 4, 2017
Stop Complaining and Do Something About It!
By Carol Culver De Leo
The smoky season will soon blanket Chiang Mai, causing serious health issues for residents and visitors. As we all know, the annual smoke that plagues Chiang Mai comes from several sources; forest fires are a major source, along with the smoke from farmers burning their crop residue in open fields.
Dr. Michael Shafer, Director of the Warm Heart Environmental Biochar Project located in Phrao, who has been working to find long term solutions to this annual crisis stated, “We do agree that forest fires are a major source of smoke, but this is the government’s responsibility to manage. Greenpeace has offered advice on positive steps that the government can take to help control wild fires. Data from Thai university research proves that most forest fires occur where farms are located within the forests. Others occur where local government officials set fires to clear roadsides of brush.”
According to Dr. Shafer, “Farmers need a way to remove their crop waste. What we can offer them is an alternative to open field burning, which is beneficial to reducing the local smoke problem.” The Biochar Project provides free training on how to build and use a pyrolysis oven, a smoke free burning process that creates a very useful product, biochar.
February 3, 2017
We can still keep global warming below 2℃ – but the hard work is about to start
By Pep Canadell and Corinne Le Quéré and Glen Peters
Global emissions from fossil fuels have stalled. That puts us in the right place to keep warming below 2℃, but there’s plenty of work still to be done, says international scientists.
Last year we found that the growth in global fossil fuel emissions have stalled over the past three years. But does this mean we are on track to keep global warming below 2℃, as agreed under the 2015 Paris Agreement?
In our study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change today, we looked at how global and national energy sectors are progressing towards global climate targets.
February 2, 2017
Antara Foto/Rony Muharrman/ via REUTERS
Fire-prone Indonesian province declares early emergency to combat “haze”
By JAKARTA (Reuters)
Indonesia’s fire-prone Riau province declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, the disaster mitigation agency said, after President Joko Widodo urged regional authorities to avoid a repeat of fires that smothered Southeast Asia in smog in 2015.
Indonesia faces global pressure to put an end to slash-and-burn land clearances for palm and pulp plantations which send clouds of toxic smoke over the region each year.
Tuesday’s move is intended to help Riau, which sits a stone’s throw across the Malacca Strait from wealthy city-state Singapore, to begin taking preventive steps as dryer weather is expected in 2017 than in 2016.
“The province of Riau today declared emergency status for forest and land fires for 96 days,” National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Nugroho told Reuters.
The 2015 fires were among the worst on record, straining ties with neighbors, and costing Indonesia an estimated 220 trillion rupiah ($16.5 billion) in economic losses, or about 1.9 percent of gross domestic product, Widodo’s office has said.
February 1, 2017
Online drive aims to fight Chiang Mai’s haze problem
By The Sunday Nation
THE WARM HEART Foundation is seeking donations for a Bt1-million project to eliminate 9,640 kilograms of smoke from the air over Chiang Mai during the agriculture fire season.
The “Stop the Smoke!” campaign is the first step in the foundation’s five-year plan to eliminate 50 per cent of the smoke. It is also challenging Chiang Mai communities to do their part in eliminating the remaining 50 per cent.
The project will remove the equivalent of smoke from 688.6 million cigarettes.
Dr Michael Shafer, the foundation’s director, said that though the campaign will remove “just a puff of smoke from our air, it is a first concrete step in the right direction”.
The campaign will run on Crowdrise, from today and all donations can be made via the website.
Funds raised in the campaign will be used to buy biochar from farmers in Mae Chaem district to use as fertiliser. These farmers normally burn 95,000 tonnes of corn crop waste and generate 594,700kg of smoke. Producing 1 tonne of biochar requires 5 tonnes of corn waste and prevents 31.3kg of smoke.
January 31, 2017
Iceland is drilling a giant hole, not for oil, but for geothermal energy
By Lulu Chang
If all goes well, Iceland may have found a way to harness the energy of supercritical steam, paving the way for new geothermal energy techniques.
Drill, baby, drill. But in this case, not for oil — rather, the nation of Iceland is digging a giant hole into a volcano in the name of renewable energy. By boring the world’s deepest geothermal hole in the Reykjanes peninsula (it goes down 3.1 miles), scientists say they’ll be able to take advantage of the extreme pressure and heat to tap into an impressive 30 to 50 megawatts of electricity from a single geothermal well.
January 30, 2017
Ireland votes to stop investing public money in fossil fuels
By Jon Fingas
Ireland just took a big step toward cutting coal and oil out of the picture. Its Parliament has passed a bill that stops the country from investing in fossil fuels as part of an €8 billion ($8.6 billion) government fund. The measure still has to clear a review before it becomes law, but it would make Ireland the first nation to completely eliminate public funding for fossil fuel sources. Even countries that have committed to ditching non-renewable energy, like Iceland, can’t quite make that claim. The closest is Norway, which ditched some of its investments back in 2015.
January 29, 2017
Image: World Economic Forum / Valeriano Di Domenico
5 ways businesses are turning up the heat on climate change
By Emily Farnworth and Jahda Swanborough
Businesses and investors are increasingly recognizing climate change as one of the top global risks. And so it is not surprising there were a record number of events during the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos to discuss the challenges and help advance the solutions. Here, we summarize the key conclusions.
The business community now falls into two main camps. The first group have already started mobilizing to drive the shift to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy, looking to take advantage of the economic opportunities it presents. The second group – reading the signals from policy-makers and markets – is beginning to realize that the world’s shift to a low-carbon future is now inevitable and is grappling to understand the disruptions it will bring and the speed at which they will come.
January 28, 2017
How Did Denmark Spark Its Miraculous Food-Waste Reduction?
By CHARLIE SORREL
Why does Denmark find it so easy to stop food waste? The country managed to reduce it by 25% over just five years, something close to a miracle. It’s cultural, but perhaps not in the way you might imagine. And Denmark’s startling waste reduction also a great example of how peer pressure is the best tool for social change
Writing in National Geographic, Jonathan Bloom gives a lot of credit to one person, Russian activist Selina Juul, who came to Denmark as a teenager, and noticed the contrast between the wasteful Danes, and the empty shelves of her home. Since starting Stop Wasting Food in 2008, Juul has been a catalyst for reducing food waste.
January 27, 2017
Delhi Just Banned All Disposable Plastics
By CHARLIE SORREL
While Michigan is busy banning the banning of plastic bags, Delhi, the Indian city of nearly 10 million people, has just banned all disposable plastics. Unlike U.S. cities, which often favor the short-term interests of business over the long term care of the people and their environment, India isn’t afraid to take desperate measures when they are needed.
India is one of the world’s top polluters, but this ban is not so much altruistic as practical. Delhi’s three main trash dumps—Okhla, Gazipur, and Bhalswa—are “a depiction of mess that can be created for environment and health of people of Delhi,” said India’s National Green Tribunal (NGT) chairperson Swatanter Kumar at the tribunal.
January 26, 2017
© Lukas Schulze/Getty Images
Do personal steps to reduce your carbon footprint really make much difference?
By Lloyd Alter
It was déjà vu all over again, reading the Guardian’s recent list of ways to reduce your carbon footprint. All the green living websites used to be full of lists like this (including TreeHugger) but they have pretty much disappeared, since they were often impossible to do or really, did not make that much difference. Sami has addressed the complexity of this issue by noting:
By focusing too strongly on the ethics of each personal lifestyle decision, I fear we lose many a would-be environmentalist who would support policy-level action to transition to a low carbon culture which in itself would do more to discourage fossil fuel use and overconsumption than any individual lifestyle decision ever will.
Do our individual actions matter anymore? Are the lifestyle suggestions that the Guardian recommends actually meaningful? Do they still make any sense?
January 25, 2017
This Is The Greenest Place On Earth…
By Jennifer Barton
Costa Rica is the Central American country known for its extraordinary biodiversity (over half a million different species of plants and animals call it home) and stunning landscapes (you’ll find everything from volcanoes to waterfalls to pristine stretches of sandy beaches there).
It’s the place to visit to interact with rare wildlife, where sloths, sea turtles and monkeys abound. Costa Rica is also a thrill-seeker’s paradise, where you can raft, snorkel and cliff dive to your heart’s content.
It’s also the country that can teach the rest of the world a thing or two about living the green life.
Costa Rica recently topped the Happy Planet Index for the third time, making it the happiest and most sustainable country on Earth. What’s more, Costa Rica’s inhabitants have a higher life expectancy than those in the US.
January 24, 2017
Credit: City of Burlington, Vermont
These Cities Are Setting the Standard for Clean Energy Worldwide
By Kathleen Riley
THE GREEN CITY
Some of you might have heard of Burlington, Vermont. It’s a relatively small city that borders Lake Champlain on the state’s western coast. The total population was just a little over 40,000 in 2013. It’s also home to United States senator and former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
But there’s also something that Burlington has that sets it apart from any other city in the entire nation—something that we hope municipalities will use as a model for green initiatives.
January 23, 2017
(Credit: Asian Development Bank / Flickr)
China, India not deterred by Trump’s apathy toward climate change
By JOANNE LU
The next four years of U.S. action – or inaction – against climate change hangs in perilous balance as Donald Trump takes the office of the presidency today. While Trump and his cabinet appointees continue to question the impact of human activity on the climate, carbon giants on the other side of the globe are taking the opportunity to reiterate their dedication – and leadership – in the fight against climate change.
January 22, 2017
Watch a century’s worth of global warming in less time than it takes to microwave your lunch
By Fast Company
Government agencies said today that Earth’s surface temperatures in 2016 were once again the warmest on record. This marks the first time since record-keeping began in 1880 that global temperatures beat records three years in a row. The findings came from analyses conducted independently by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The animation below is nothing short of terrifying.
Click here to watch!
January 21, 2017
Donald Trump sees the future in coal. China sees the future in renewables. Who’s making the safer bet?
By Peter Thomson
In Donald Trump’s vision of America, some parts of the country’s future look a lot like its past. Exhibit A: his promise to revive the flagging coal industry.
Meanwhile the world’s other economic giant, China, which now uses more coal than any other country on Earth, is moving sharply in the opposite direction. China recently announced another huge new investment in renewable energy — $360 billion by 2020, which the Chinese government says will also create 13 million new jobs.
So which is the better bet on where the jobs and the energy of the future will come from?
January 20, 2017
(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Before Trump can stop it, Obama just spent $500 million to fight climate change
By Adele Peters
Days before Trump takes office, the State Department announced that it will send $500 million to the Green Climate Fund to help developing countries fight climate change. That’s money that Trump threatened not to pay—but now he won’t be able to stop it.
“The check is cashed, so to speak,” says Jesse Bragg from Corporate Accountability International, a group that organized a petition in late 2016 to pressure the government to make a payment. “So there’s no way for the Trump administration to rescind this or other payments that the Obama administration has made to the Green Climate Fund.”
January 19, 2017
Gauthier DELECROIX – 郭天/Flickr
The end of coal is near: China just scrapped 103 power plants
By Peter Dockrill
China has announced plans to cancel more than 100 coal plants currently in development, scrapping what would amount to a massive 120 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired electricity capacity if the plants were completed.
For a bit of context, the entire US has approximately 305 GW gigawatts of coal capacity in total, and this massive adjustment leaves room for China to advance its development of clean, renewable energy.
Despite China’s much-publicised pollution problems, the reason for the cancellations is because the country was actually vastly exceeding its planned coal capacity for the future.
January 18, 2017
Wildfires, sea level rise, coral bleaching: Climate change is already here
By Sean Greene
From extreme wildfires in the Western United States to melting ice sheets in Antarctica, the effects of rising temperatures on Earth have not gone unnoticed.
On Wednesday, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced 2016 was the hottest year on record. Before that, the record was set in 2015. Before that, it was 2014.
Both agencies linked the record-breaking temperatures to human-caused climate change. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released by cars, factories and power plants trap more heat in the atmosphere, causing temperatures to climb upward.
Although the most severe consequences of this warming have yet to come — especially if greenhouse gas emissions remain at current levels — some of the effects have already been felt. Scientists, public health officials and even the Pentagon are watching with great concern. Here’s a look at some of those effects:
January 17, 2017
Here’s the Best Way to Explain Climate Change to Your Inquisitive Kids
By Richard Muller
How do I explain climate change to my teenager? originally appeared on Quora: the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
Answer by Richard Muller, Professor of Physics at UC Berkeley, author of Now, The Physics of Time, on Quora:
The best way to explain climate change to your teenager is to let him know that there is strong evidence that the average surface temperature of the Earth has warmed by about 1.5C, ever since the thermometer was invented. That’s not much, but it is enough to have caused the sea level to rise by about 8 inches (mostly because warmer water expands).
We know this warming is due to increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, mostly from burning fossil fuels. That’s called the “Greenhouse effect”. Carbon dioxide increases the effectiveness of the atmosphere at trapping heat, so when carbon dioxide increases, it gets warmer.
January 16, 2017
With Nine Gigawatts Coming Online In 2017, India Set To Emerge As Solar’s Third Superpower
By Peter Kelly-Detwiler
Global solar market has record 2016, but shows signs of a slowdown – 2016 was a record year for global solar installations.
Although final numbers are still being tallied, estimates suggest a number around 76,000 MW (or 76 GW). China drove the train, with 22 GW in the first half of the year before stalling out in the second half.
The U.S. also had a solid year, with around 14 GW. However, both of these key markets show signs of slowing in 2017, with the total global market retrenching to perhaps around 70 GW. China will scale back owing to a reduction in feed-in tariffs (the guaranteed price paid for solar output).
For its part, the U.S. is expected to see a hangover as a consequence of the late 2015 extension of the federal Investment Tax Credit, which resulted in developers jamming projects into 2016 to beat a deadline which was then extended. So 2017 U.S. installations will fall off somewhat.
January 15, 2017
A new study just blew a hole in one of the strongest arguments against global warming
By Gene Kim and Jessica Orwig
The oceans are warming up faster than we thought. While this is bad news for the planet, it’s good news for climate change scientists who have — for the last two decades — puzzled over warming trends in ocean surface temperatures for nearly 20 years.
According to a big chunk of ocean surface temperature recorded by boat, the oceans were not warming nearly as quickly as the rest of the planet. This mystified scientists, but climate change skeptics used it as surefire, “scientific” proof that climate change either wasn’t as bad as scientists thought, or it didn’t exist, at all.
Now, a new study, published in Science Advances, has confirmed what NOAA first discovered in 2015 — the oceans are indeed warming, and faster than we thought. So why the change? It comes down to what every scientist knows too well — analyzing data collected by different methods, and at different times, is a tricky business because some methods of collecting ocean surface temperatures are more accurate than others.
The new study confirmed that data collected by boats were slightly different than data collected by buoys and satellites. So, when scientists combined all of the data, it skewed the results. To identify what’s really happening, the new study analyzed numerous data sets individually — instead of combing them all together.
They discovered that oceans have been warming about 70% more per decade for the last 19 years than previously thought. Source
January 14, 2017
© TYER Wind
This startup’s wind generator flaps its wings like a hummingbird
By Derek Markham
Even in the wild world of offbeat wind energy machines, Tyer Wind’s design stands out.
Small wind power seems like a great idea for a home or business until you learn the facts about how much more efficient, both cost- and energy-wise, large conventional wind turbines are. For certain situations, notably off-grid and rural locations with adequate wind speeds, small wind generators on tall masts can be a good option, but for the rest of us, mounting a tiny wind machine on our roof or in the backyard and expecting it to produce meaningful amounts of electricity just isn’t realistic. However, unconventional wind generators still attract a lot of attention, perhaps because of our attraction to the new and different, even if they will (most likely) never make it past the R&D and investment phases and into mass market.
This new wind converter design, from the folks behind the Saphonian bladeless wind machine, falls clearly into the ‘new and different’ category, and while the details of the TYER Wind machine are sparse, the available images and video are intriguing, to say the least. It’s not specifically a small wind machine, as the company appears to be envisioning large-scale deployment, but the working model is clearly in the micro- to small-scale wind category.
January 13, 2017
(Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
Scientists have a new way to calculate what global warming costs. Trump’s team isn’t going to like it.
By Chelsea Harvey
How we view the costs of future climate change, and more importantly how we quantify them, may soon be changing. A much-anticipated new report, just released by the National Academy of Sciences, recommends major updates to a federal metric known as the “social cost of carbon” — and its suggestions could help address a growing scientific concern that we’re underestimating the damages global warming will cause.
The social cost of carbon is an Obama-era metric first addressed by a federal working group in 2009. The basic premise is simple: Scientists agree that climate change will have all kinds of impacts on human societies, including natural disasters and effects on human health, productivity and agricultural output, all of which have economic consequences.
The social cost of carbon, then, refers to the monetary cost of emitting a single ton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, given that these emissions will further contribute to global warming. The value has been used to aid in cost-benefit analyses for a variety of federal environmental rules. Currently, it’s set at about $36 per ton of carbon dioxide.
January 12, 2017
Towards sustainable growth and climate-change adaptation
By Simón Gaviria Muñoz
Colombia- Bogotá – Despite belated efforts from the world’s nations to address the global warming challenge, it is now clear that temperatures will inevitably rise and that environmental and social consequences will follow. And yet, though it may be too late for humanity to prevent temperatures from rising beyond 2 degrees Celsius globally, governments and citizens are still in a position to mitigate the consequences by effectively preparing to what is coming. Hence the looming question: will the world rise to the challenge and enact the necessary policies and incentives to adapt to climate-change or will it rest idle while it unfolds?
Considering the complexity of the issue and the multiple influencing variables, it is natural that the way in which countries and governments are to respond will vary. The major polluters, for instance, should focus primarily in reducing their carbon footprint as quickly as possible lest temperatures become intolerable. Meanwhile, countries set to be particularly affected by global warming–say, emerging economies that are likely to suffer from severe floods and droughts–should prioritize adapting their territories and infrastructure to withstand natural phenomena, while still trying to reduce their emissions.
January 11, 2017
10 Reasons to Be Optimistic for a Low-Carbon Future
By Peyton Fleming
Sure, many of my friends in the climate change movement can’t wait to forget 2016, the year when an incoming Trump presidency brought new meaning to climate uncertainty. But there is a movement taking hold that is far bigger than the U.S.—I’ve seen it in the last year in Africa, in Europe and the U.S.
Here are 10 shining lights for the irresistibility and inevitability of the low-carbon future. It’s here—and there is no turning back.
1. Solar Symphony
Solar costs keep plummeting, the latest record low being a 120-megawatt solar project in Chile whose power will be sold for $29.10 a megawatt-hour, less than half the coal plant bid. Solar photovoltaic costs are dropping the fastest compared to other renewables, which helps explain the record 4,300 megawatts of new solar PV capacity installed in the U.S. in third quarter ’16. (That’s 60 percent of new generating electric capacity installed in the US last quarter). We also saw the opening of the world’s first one-kilometer road paved with solar panels, dubbed the “Wattway,” this month in France.
January 10, 2017
The 13 top energy developments of 2016
By Laurie Guevara-Stone
While certain events in the past year may have had some people scratching their heads, we can look back on 2016 with a lot of gratitude. We’re not just talking that we got to run around with smartphones and catch Pokémons, or that we can now download Netflix movies. There were some exciting clean energy developments as well. Below are some of our favorites (in no particular order):
1. The Paris Agreement becomes legally binding
Even though 196 nations signed the COP21 Paris Agreement in 2015, it didn’t become legally binding until the agreement was ratified by 55 countries accounting for at least 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions between them. That happened in October (in September, the two biggest greenhouse gas emitters — the U.S. and China — ratified the agreement), and on Nov. 4, the Paris Agreement became the first legally binding agreement, signed by all of the world’s functioning governments, to lay down a commitment to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius by 2100.
January 9, 2017
Photograph: Chiang Ying-ying/AP
Prepare for reanimation of the zombie myth ‘no global warming since 2016’
By Dana Nuccitelli
Climate myths are like zombies – you shoot them through the heart, walk away thinking they’re dead, and then they pop back up behind you and try once again to eat your brain.
So it is with Stage 1 climate denial and the myth that the Earth isn’t warming. It’s so persistent that it’s related to the 5th, 9th, and 49th-most popular myths in the Skeptical Science database. Climate deniers have been peddling the myth ‘no warming since [insert date]’ for over a decade.
It’s a popular myth among those who benefit from maintaining the status quo because if the problem doesn’t exist, obviously there’s no need for action to solve it. And it’s an incredibly easy argument that can be made at any time, using the telltale technique of climate denial known as cherry picking.
January 8, 2017
Make 2017 More Sustainable!
By Tania Arrayales
A New Year doesn’t have to mean unattainable resolutions. This year is all about bettering each other and celebrating every type of change no matter how big or small.
Want to live a more sustainable life? And don’t know where to start? I’ve put together a list of 12 ways to make difference in many aspect of your life.
Insider Tip: Write these down and place somewhere you can see it as a reminder.
January 7, 2017
50 Ways to Make Your Business Greener This Year
By Annie Pilon
If one of your 2017 resolutions is to make your business greener, you’re in luck. There’s no shortage of ways you can improve your business practices to help the environment. And as a bonus, many of these improvements can also save your business some money. Here are 50 different ways you can make your business greener in the new year.
January 6, 2017
5 Climate Change Innovations You’ll Hear About in 2017
By Jacqueline Ronson
There are a lot of big ideas floating out there in Earth’s carbon-heavy atmosphere about how to save the planet and its inhabitants from the worst effects of climate change. Some are risky and far off, like plans to put a giant mirror in orbit to divert the sun’s light, or spraying large quantities of sulphuric acid into the upper atmosphere to slightly darken global skies. Others are small and pretty easy to latch on to, like switching out a light bulb for one that will save you money on your electricity bill.
January 5, 2017
Credit: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
New technique predicts frequency of heavy precipitation with global warming
By Jennifer Chu
On Dec. 11, 2014, a freight train of a storm steamed through much of California, deluging the San Francisco Bay Area with three inches of rain in just one hour. The storm was fueled by what meteorologists refer to as the “Pineapple Express”—an atmospheric river of moisture that is whipped up over the Pacific’s tropical waters and swept north with the jet stream.
January 4, 2017
Photograph: Roger Harrabin
Indian firm makes carbon capture breakthrough
By Roger Harrabin
Carbonclean is turning planet-heating emissions into profit by converting CO2 into baking powder – and could lock up 60,000 tonnes of CO2 a year.
A breakthrough in the race to make useful products out of planet-heating CO2 emissions has been made in southern India.
A plant at the industrial port of Tuticorin is capturing CO2 from its own coal-powered boiler and using it to make soda ash – aka baking powder.
Crucially, the technology is running without subsidy, which is a major advance for carbon capture technology as for decades it has languished under high costs and lukewarm government support.
The firm behind the Tuticorin process says its chemicals will lock up 60,000 tonnes of CO2 a year and the technology is attracting interest from around the world.
Debate over carbon capture has mostly focused until now on carbon capture and storage (CCS), in which emissions are forced into underground rocks at great cost and no economic benefit. The Tuticorin plant is said to be the first industrial scale example of carbon capture and utilisation (CCU).
January 3, 2017
David McNew/Getty Images
4 reasons not to completely despair about climate change in 2017
By Neil Bhatiya
The end of 2016 has not been a sunny time for climate activists.
As the Trump administration takes shape, it has become crystal clear that the president-elect’s climate change denialism will soon become de facto U.S. policy. And Trump will not only have many options for rolling back the progress President Obama made to curb carbon emissions, he already is putting in place the personnel to do it. Trump’s proposed picks include: for head of the EPA, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who is currently suing the agency; for secretary of the interior, Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), who despite his support for protecting public lands, is lukewarm on climate issues; and, for state department secretary — the face of the United States in international climate negotiations — Rex Tillerson, the CEO of ExxonMobil who is locked in a battle with the descendants of the oil company’s founder over its role in distorting the evidence of climate change.
Not all of the news is this bleak, however. As the year ends, there are some pockets of optimism:
January 2, 2017
Photograph: Will Singleton/AP
The five innovations that shaped sustainability in 2016
By Laura Parker
It’s been a rollercoaster of a year. In the world of sustainability alone, we saw the landmark Paris climate change agreement come into force; learned how rising temperatures in the Arctic are negatively impacting local residents; and watched as the world’s top conservationists mourned the declining state of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
And then, a bombshell: a certain “short-fingered vulgarian” won the US presidential race and called into question everything from America’s basic environmental protection to Nasa’s ongoing climate change research. Corporate America took evasive action, signing a letter telling Donald Trump it is serious about sustainability, while others began unpacking Trump’s emphasis on “clean coal” and what it really means for the future of energy in the US.
January 1, 2017
A power plant in Sweden where waste is converted into energySource: JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/Getty Images
Sweden is so damn good at recycling, it ran out of trash
By Eric Lutz
Sweden, a nation with a long history of green leadership, gets a significant portion of its energy from burning household waste.
But a self-described “recycling revolution” has led to less than one 1% of the country’s waste being landfilled, and Sweden has taken to importing garbage from other countries to keep its recycling plants going, the Independent reported.
Yes, you read that right: People are sending Sweden their garbage.
Countries like Norway and England are paying Sweden to take their trash, and Sweden is using that trash to heat their homes.
December 31, 2016
It wasn’t entirely bad news. Here are five positive environmental stories from 2016.
By Brady Dennis and Chris Mooney
When it comes to the environment, 2016 brought a steady stream of grim news.
The year will almost certainly hold the prize for the hottest in recorded history, eclipsing the records set in 2015 and 2014. Researchers tracked how Antarctic ice sheets continue to melt and how the Arctic continues to warm. Coral reefs are dying. Air and water problems keep surfacing around the globe. Some scientists are predicting that sea levels will rise even more than expected in coming decades, while others are linking extreme weather events to the changing climate and detailing how environmental and climatic factors are fueling the spread of Zika and other devastating diseases.
December 30, 2016
Ontario set to tackle climate change with cap-and-trade launch on Jan. 1
By ADRIAN MORROW
On the first day of the new year, Ontario will launch its cap-and-trade system on carbon in a bid to vault the province to the front lines of the battle against climate change.
It is the centrepiece of the Wynne government’s Climate Change Action Plan, meant not only to meet tough targets for slashing greenhouse gas emissions but to spark a sweeping transition to a low-carbon society by changing the way Ontarians get around, heat their homes and run their businesses.
December 29, 2016
Hotter Days Will Drive Global Inequality
By David Rotman
Rising temperatures due to climate change will strongly affect economic growth around the world, making some countries richer and some poorer.
Extreme heat, it turns out, is very bad for the economy. Crops fail. People work less, and are less productive when they do work.
December 28, 2016
Is global warming still happening if it’s really, really cold outside? A scientific explainer on climate change
By Tristin Hopper
It’s probably the single most persistent and annoying question that is asked of atmospheric scientists: “If the planet is really warming, why is it so cold outside?”
It’s become such a trope of editorial cartoons that there’s a Tumblr page collecting them all, and the sentiment has become a social media staple. “What a night of climate change!” read a tweet by Kellie Leitch’s campaign manager Nick Kouvalis after a particularly heavy snowfall.
“The only upside of it being so cold outside is that it proved global warming is nothing but a leftist lie,” reads a typical Twitter post, one of thousands flooding the internet on Monday from a cold-battered North America.
December 27, 2016
Photograph: Daniel Beltra
Why cutting soot emissions is ‘fastest solution’ to slowing Arctic ice melt
By Fiona Harvey
Reducing wood-burning, gas-flaring and global diesel emissions would be ‘quick win’ in combating irreversible climate change, scientists say.
World leaders should redouble efforts to cut soot emissions because it is the cheapest and fastest way to combat climate change, climate scientists and advocates have told the Guardian.
Deposits of soot – unburned carbon particles – have stained parts of the Arctic black, changing the ice from a reflector of sunlight to an absorber of heat, and accelerating the melting of ice and snow, which itself is starting to alter global weather patterns.
December 26, 2016
Solar power is now the cheapest form of energy in almost 60 countries
By DAVID NIELD
We just hit a major turning point.
It’s official: solar became the cheapest source of new energy in lower-income countries this year, giving both companies and governments alike another reason to ditch coal and gas for renewables.
Data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) show that the average price of solar energy in almost 60 countries dropped to US$1.65 million per megawatt during 2016, just below wind at US$1.66 million per megawatt.
December 25, 2016
Stockholm’s Ingenious Plan to Recycle Yard Waste
By FEARGUS O’SULLIVAN
Discarded Christmas trees will be transformed into plant food, biofuel, and carbon sinks—but that’s just the beginning.
Does your heart bleed a little when you see an abandoned, balding Christmas tree wasting away on the curb? If so, your holiday cheer might last a little longer knowing that a project taking root in Stockholm could make those withering pines truly useful to the very end.
(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Obama Blocked Trump from Drilling the Arctic and Atlantic With This Obscure Law
By SARAH EMERSON
December 21 President Obama used his executive power to protect huge portions of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans from oil and gas exploitation. The White House announced that 98 percent of federally controlled Arctic waters, totaling 115 million acres, along with 3.8 million acres of underwater canyons off the Atlantic coast, would be permanently off-limits to fossil fuel drilling leases.
The outgoing president has noticeably hustled to shield the environment from a less conservation-minded administration, but some worry it’s not enough. Earlier this year, President Obama issued a five-year ban on oil and gas leases in the Atlantic Ocean. (He previously supported drilling there.) And while the decision was welcomed by environmental groups, many also feared the offshore drilling blueprint would eventually be undermined by Trump’s own, fossil fuel-friendly plan.
Five reasons to be optimistic about climate change
By Jon Goldin-Dubois
Recent accomplishments have paved a way forward for more environmental progress.
We will solve the challenge of climate change in our lifetimes. It’s a daring assertion, especially given President-elect Donald Trump’s stated and contradictory positions on climate change and environmental protections. But the transformation toward a zero-carbon economy is already happening on the state and local level. And as 2016 comes to a close, here are five reasons to be optimistic about our ability to reduce carbon emissions:
1. A recent study led by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Colorado concludes that the United States can achieve to 80 percent clean renewable energy by 2030, without any new storage or breakthrough technologies.
Alex Wong / Getty
Bill Gates says investing in clean energy makes sense even if you don’t believe in climate change
By Ina Fried
Bill Gates is an optimist. That said, he believes getting a desired outcome means taking on significant risk, making a big investment and having a long-term view.
That is the approach Gates took at Microsoft by choosing to license, rather than sell, his computer operating system to IBM.
And it’s the same approach Gates is using in his latest project: The $1 billion Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund announced on Monday. The effort, which also has funds from Alibaba’s Jack Ma and venture capitalists Vinod Khosla and John Doerr, aims to fund only energy companies that show the potential to make a meaningful difference in climate change.
“If you can make electrons cheaper than someone, that is one of the biggest markets in the world,” Gates told Recode on Monday.
9 Little Things You Can Do To Fight Climate Change Every Single Day
By MARKHAM HEID
From buying better bulbs to making eco-friendly food choices, your daily choices matter.
We all—well, most of us—are worried about the health and future of our planet. While misinformation abounds, most scientists agree that climate change is real and human beings are the catalyst.
But recognizing there’s a problem and taking steps to correct it are two very different things. So how can you do your part to turn the tide on climate change?
“The biggest most-effective thing people can do is to use their voice to push local, state, and federal government officials to implement system-wide changes,” says Aliya Haq, deputy director of the Clean Power Plan Initiative at the non-profit National Resources Defense Council.
GE: Why grids don’t need to rely on “synchronous” generation
By Giles Parkinson
GE, the world’s biggest industrial group and the largest supplier of energy machinery, says the world no longer needs to rely on so-called “synchronous” generation provided by coal and gas plants to ensure the stability and reliability of electricity grids.
“The days of relying solely on synchronous generation for everything are over,” says Nick Miller, senior technical director for GE Energy Consulting, adding that alternatives such as inverter-linked solar can perform many of the same functions, and much more efficiently.
Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Leonardo DiCaprio: climate fight is US history’s ‘biggest economic opportunity’
By Reuters in New York
Tackling climate change is the “biggest economic opportunity” in the history of the US no matter who holds political office, the Hollywood star and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio said on Friday.
“There are a few very prominent people that still deny the overwhelming conclusions of the world’s scientists that climate change is largely human-caused and needs immediate urgent attention,” he told a United Nations awards ceremony.
Rural communities in Cambodia find ways to overcome impacts of climate change
By United Nations Environment Programme
Fruit trees pepper the homesteads, fish swim among the rice stalks in paddy fields, and stout chickens run around the village of Chiork Boeungprey, located within Boeungper Wildlife Sanctuary in Cambodia.
Villagers here plant rice and cashew trees, raise livestock and carry out odd jobs for a living. They also protect a 2,000 ha patch of forest — one of 27 such Community Protected Areas (CPA) within the wildlife sanctuary — that provides them with a sustainable supply of resin and other non-timber forest products.
Over the past few years, the villagers began noticing changes in the climate, which brought more extensive flooding and drought, reducing their crop yields, forcing them to strip their forests to provide things like firewood.
“The seasonal rainfalls have changed and the heat waves are getting hotter,” said Sieng Houy, a farmer in the village.
(Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
Chinese Consumers Adopt Greener Lifestyle
By Charlotte Middlehurst
For the last two years, Helen Ni has hosted low-carbon technology workshops for local kids and their parents. The informal gatherings take place at her ground-floor apartment in the Shanghai suburb of Minhang, close to Jiaotong University, one of the country’s foremost electric vehicle research centers.
Most classes take place outside on the beige-tiled patio, which stands out against her neighbor’s for its big wooden planters and brown ceramic pots that burst with greenery.
For many of the children, it’s their only opportunity to learn about planting while actually getting their hands dirty. They thrust their tiny fingers into the soil with glee while Niexplains what organic farming is and how you turn food waste into compost. In the corner of this unassuming rectangular space, there’s an aquaponics system to grow lettuce and flowers without the use of soil.
Field of steam: How Kenya has become a geothermal superpower
(CNN)Kenya is a global superpower of the flower trade, and Oserian, one of the largest fair-trade flower farms in the country, is a major reason why.
The company’s 200-hectare site on Lake Naivasha produces 700,000 flowers each day, which are exported across the world.
Oserian is also leading change in the country’s energy sector, by running its operation largely on geothermal power. The company pipes steam from the ground to heat a water recirculation system that maintains its mighty greenhouses.
“Before we had the geothermal power we had to have a lot of backup generators and we were using a lot of diesel,” says Alasdair Keith, Engineering Manager of the Oserian Development Company. “Our electrical savings are probably $750,000 a year compared to before.”
Institutions Representing $5 Trillion Pledge to Divest From Fossil Fuels
The scope of global fossil fuel divestment has doubled over the past 15 months, with institutions and individuals controlling $5.197 trillion in assets pledging to divest. The announcement comes on the first anniversary of the Paris agreement on climate change.
“One year after the adoption of the historic Paris climate agreement, it’s clear the transition to a clean energy future is inevitable, beneficial and well underway, and that investors have a key role to play,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
“I commend today’s announcement that a growing number of investors are backing a shift away from the most carbon intensive energy sources and into safe, sustainable energy. Investments in clean energy are the right thing to do—and the smart way to build prosperity for all, while protecting our planet and ensuring no one is left behind.”
Photo: Via Nature Communications
The dream of unlimited clean energy is close to being reality
By Mike Wehner, BGR
Humans need energy because that’s the only thing that powers our smartphones, and without them we’d have to actually talk to our relatives at family gatherings, so it’s a pretty big deal that we have an energy plan for the future.
The sun is a great source of energy, but it’s just too far away. So scientists have been working on a way to create an energy source like the sun, but here on the surface of our planet. Somehow, it’s actually working.
Germany unveils zero-emissions train that only emits steam
By Tom Embury-Dennis
Germany is set to introduce the world’s first zero-emission passenger train to be powered by hydrogen.
The Coradia iLint only emits excess steam into the atmosphere, and provides an alternative to the country’s 4,000 diesel trains.
Lower Saxony has already ordered 14 of them from French company Alstom, and more are likely to be seen around the country if they are judged a success, reports Die Welt.
How Are Vulnerable Countries Adapting to Climate Change?
Frequently Asked Questions
By Jo-Ellen Parry, Anika Terton
How are vulnerable countries managing the impacts of climate change?
The International Institute for Sustainable Development recently undertook a standardized review for the Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia, providing a baseline picture of national adaptation policy and practice in developing countries. What follows is an overview of the trends that emerged from that review—along with our key takeaways. For a more detailed discussion our findings, read our briefing note.
WHAT ARE TRENDS IN ADAPTATION PREPAREDNESS?
We examined adaptation action in 15 African and Asian countries. These countries are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and are among the least ready to respond to its impacts.
Little Things You Can Do To Help Stop Global Warming
By Rebecca Hovel
It’s crucial we talk about global warming and understand our effects on the environment now more than ever. With a president-elect that once, despite all scientific evidence, declared global warming was a Chinese hoax, it’s important to inform yourself about what exactly global warming is. So, what is it exactly? Global warming is the gradual heating of Earth’s surface, oceans and atmosphere.
Basically, the planet’s climate (its weather conditions) constantly changes over time. The earth has gone through warming periods before. But over the last 50 years, the amount of warming happening is occurring quicker than it ever has in the past. Many scientists worry it’s happening more rapidly because of the human species and how we live every day. OK, so then where’s the evidence?
Solar-Panel Roads to Be Built on Four Continents Next Year
By Anna Hirtenstein
Electric avenues that can transmit the sun’s energy onto power grids may be coming to a city near you.
A subsidiary of Bouygues SA has designed rugged solar panels, capable of withstand the weight of an 18-wheeler truck, that they’re now building into road surfaces. After nearly five years of research and laboratory tests, they’re constructing 100 outdoor test sites and plan to commercialize the technology in early 2018.
“We wanted to find a second life for a road,” said Philippe Harelle, the chief technology officer at Colas SA’s Wattway unit, owned by the French engineering group Bouygues. “Solar farms use land that could otherwise be for agriculture, while the roads are free.”
Mayors Unite to Fight Climate Change From City to City
By MEREDITH RUTLAND BAUER
Climate change has started to rear its ugly head in small ways—sea water flooding in city streets, native plants dying and discouraging ecotourism, persistent droughts—and city mayors are fighting back.
An international coalition of mayors recently formed the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, a group of about 7,100 city mayors from six continents to take greater action to avoid climate impacts and demonstrate how local action can impact the global stage, according to a release.
“The leadership of cities is more important than ever in the fight against climate change. This group’s diverse experience from cities on every continent will help support local action and speed global progress,” said Michael Bloomberg, former New York City mayor and Co-Chair of the initiative, in a release.
Role-Playing Action on Climate Change
IF YOU WERE NARENDRA MODI, how fast would you pledge to cut India’s greenhouse gas emissions? How would you protect India’s economic development? What would you demand in return? What if you were Barack Obama? Vladimir Putin?
“World Climate,” a live-action role-playing simulation of the UN climate change negotiations, asks just those questions—and has proved useful not only in classrooms across the world, but for Nobel-winning scientists, EU policymakers, oil executives, and the US State Department, all of whom have participated in the simulation since its White House debut in 2015.
‘Protecting forests is the best way to fight climate change’
With the Cancún Declaration adopted at the Convention on Biological Diversity summit, DW talks to an indigenous leader on how native peoples are defending the Earth’s forests – and through that, biodiversity and climate.
At the 13th meeting of the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD CoP13), representatives from more than 190 nations are discussing conservation in Cancun from December 4 to 17.
Already on Saturday (03.12.2016), delegates agreed to adopt the Cancún Declaration to ramp up efforts to protect the world’s biodiversity.
EPA boss: Room for hope on climate change
Full panic mode may be premature
By JOHN D. SUTTER
(CNN) – If you’re concerned about climate change, you’re likely in full panic mode right now.
Consider three recent news items:
• US President-elect Donald Trump has called climate change a “hoax” and has suggested he might scrap many Obama-era environmental regulations, including the landmark Paris Agreement, which aims to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius.
• The head of Trump’s EPA transition team is basically a fossil fuel industry mouthpiece.
• And, thanks partly to our addiction to fossil fuels, this year is expected to be the hottest on record — again. That has real consequences all around the world, from Louisiana, where floods linked to man-made warming killed 13 people; to India, where farmers were committing suicide amid searing drought; Canada, where wildfires evacuated a city; and Alaska, where the indigenous village of Shishmaref voted to relocate because the coast is melting.
Climate change is happening now. We’re causing it. And frankly, it’s terrifying.
But — and this is a critical “but” — there’s still room for hope.
How to have a sustainable holiday season and help make the world a better place
By DBS Bank
The planet needs our help
According to the United Nations, less than 3 percent of the Earth’s water is drinkable, one in nine people in the world today are undernourished and some 103 million youth worldwide lack basic literacy skills.
But by doing our part and starting at home, we can all make a difference. From deep economic chasms and climate volatility to increased needs in the fields of health, food systems and more, making positive changes to help create a better world is more important than ever.
During the busy holiday season, it can be all too easy to get caught up in the hustle and forget what’s really important.
We can all do our part to help transform the world. By selecting products from sustainably minded companies and seeking out charitable initiatives to incorporate into the holiday season, we can work together to help end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all.
So this year, consider others in your holiday plans by seeking out gifts, decor inspiration and more that help to make the world a better place.
Fusion power: Unlimited, free energy that harnesses the power of the Sun
By Stewart Prager , Michael C. Zarnstorff
For centuries, humans have dreamed of harnessing the power of the sun to energise our lives here on Earth. But we want to go beyond collecting solar energy, and one day generate our own from a mini-sun.
If we’re able to solve an extremely complex set of scientific and engineering problems, fusion energy promises a green, safe, unlimited source of energy. From just one kilogram of deuterium extracted from water per day could come enough electricity to power hundreds of thousands of homes.
Since the 1950s, scientific and engineering research has generated enormous progress toward forcing hydrogen atoms to fuse together in a self-sustaining reaction – as well as a small but demonstrable amount of fusion energy. Skeptics and proponents alike note the two most important remaining challenges: maintaining the reactions over long periods of time and devising a material structure to harness the fusion power for electricity.
India just fired up the world’s largest solar plant to power 150,000 homes
By Cat DiStasio
Things are heating up in India, where one of the world’s top polluting countries has unveiled the world’s largest solar power plant. The 648-megawatt project in Kamuthi, Tamil Nadu stole the title from California’s 550MW Topaz Solar Farm, making it the largest solar power plant located on a single site. India’s newest solar plant, which was built on a speedy timeline of just eight months, is largely self-maintaining, with a host of solar-powered robots that clean the solar panels, keeping efficiency rates high and human effort to a minimum.
India has been working to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and install more renewable energy projects to help slash air pollution. The Kamuthi Solar Power Project, funded by Adani Power and running since September 21, contributes to that aim in a significant way. Once the plant is fully operational, it is expected to generate enough energy to power 150,000 households. The $679-million solar power facility contains 2.5 million individual solar cells and spans across 1,270 acres in southern India. Al Jazeera posted a short video (embedded above) that appears to contain drone footage of the expansive solar power project from various angles.
Tesla Just Powered a 600-Person Island With Renewable Solar Energy
By Dr. Mohamed J. Al-Hassan
When you live on a remote island, scarcity is a recurring theme; from food to power to accessibility. The island of Ta’u in American Samoa knows this all too well. Located 4,000 miles (6,400 km) from the west coast of the United States, the island is no stranger to power rationing and outages.
To demonstrate their capabilities, Tesla and Solar City installed a solar power and battery storage-enabled microgrid that can supply nearly 100 percent of the island’s power needs from renewable energy, providing a cost-saving alternative to diesel, removing the hazards of power intermittency and making outages a thing of the past.
The microgrid – 1.4 megawatts of solar generation capacity from SolarCity and Tesla and 6 megawatt hours of battery storage from 60 Tesla Powerpacks – was implemented within just one year from start to finish.
(Reusters/Mike Blake TPX Images of the day)
This is where Obama’s hugely ambitious climate policies were headed — before Trump came along
By Chris Mooney
The White House Wednesday unleashed a detailed 111-page document outlining a “mid century strategy” to massively slash U.S. carbon emissions by the year 2050, reducing them 80 percent “or more” below their 2005 levels. Just to give some sense of scale, the long-term impact of the plan would be larger than the effect of instantly taking all cars off U.S. roads.
The breathtaking “deep decarbonization” document, timed for the ongoing Marrakech, Morocco climate meetings, is meant to build upon the U.S.’s existing pledge to cut emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025, which represents the country’s commitment under the newly operative Paris climate agreement. But it comes at a time when a burst of doubt has been thrust into this entire process by the election of Donald Trump, who has pledged to “cancel” the Paris deal, expand carbon intensive coal burning, and who does not accept the underlying science of climate change.
(view or download now)
November 30, 2016
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Small farms are just as important as big agriculture in the fight against climate change
By Duda Cardosa
Just four days before the US elections, the Paris Agreement officially became international law after receiving formal sign-off from 55 countries that contribute 55% of global greenhouse-gas emissions. This landmark deal marked a pivotal moment in the fight against climate change, particularly given its ratification by a majority of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases, including India, China, the United States, and the European Union.
However, the election of Donald Trump has ushered in a new administration that has vocalized opposition to the agreement, leaving a wake of uncertainty. Now, more than ever, it’s important that we make every dollar and every action count in the fight against climate change.
November 29, 2016
Breakthrough In Solar Power Could Make It Cheaper And More Commercially Viable
In a paper published in Nature Energy, Dr Ross Hatton, Professor Richard Walton and colleagues, explain how solar cells could be produced with tin, making them more adaptable and simpler to produce than their current counterparts.
Solar cells based on a class of semiconductors known as lead perovskites are rapidly emerging as an efficient way to convert sunlight directly into electricity. However, the reliance on lead is a serious barrier to commercialisation, due to the well-known toxicity of lead.
November 28, 2016
REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski/File Photo
Finland Is Set To Become The First Country To Ban Coal Power
By Thomas Tamblyn
Finland is widely expected to become the first country in the world to actually ban the use of coal power stations.
The government is being tipped to announce the bold decision along with a new climate and energy strategy for the country in March 2017.
It would be a significant step forward in countries prohibiting the types of energy production that we know directly contribute to putting harmful gasses into the atmosphere.
While coal currently only provides around eight per cent of the country’s energy needs the move will have a significant impact on Finland’s own energy companies.
November 27, 2016
New technology makes solar panels 70% more efficient
By Cat DiStasio
Researchers at Technion Israel Institute of Technology recently made a breakthrough in solar cell technology that could boost efficiency of existing photovoltaics by 70 percent or more. The amount of sunlight solar cells can convert into usable energy is typically limited to around 30 percent, with many existing solar panels falling short of that due to less than optimal conditions. The Technion team developed new thermodynamic tools that work to capture energy currently lost, and convert it to electricity, thereby increasing a solar cell’s efficiency to as much as 50 percent.
November 26, 2016
16-year-old scientist could turn Egypt’s plastic problem into a biofuel boom
Azza Abdel Hamid Faiad was the winner of the European Union Contest for Young Scientists for finding a new way of turning plastic into biofuel.
A sixteen-year-old Egyptian student, Azza Abdel Hamid Faiad from the Zahran Language School in Alexandria has identified a new low-cost catalyst which can generate biofuel by breaking down plastic waste.
The idea of breaking down plastic polymers into fuel feedstocks, the bulk raw material used for producing biofuel , is not a new idea. But Faiad has found a high yield catalyst, aluminosilicate catalyst, that breaks down plastic waste producing gaseous products like methane, propane and ethane, which are then converted into ethanol to use as biofuel.
November 25, 2016
The startup heroes of China’s household solar revolution
By Tom Baxter
China has seen enormous growth in renewable energy over the last few years. It now has both the largest and the fastest growing wind and solar sectors in the world. In fact, last year all of China’s increase in energy demand was met by renewables. All of this has been rapidly reducing the carbon intensity of China’s economy, now decreasing at the fastest rate in the world.
However, the picture is far from all rosy. The country’s massive solar and wind potential is seeing huge curtailment, where energy is produced but not integrated into the grid – or, in other terms, wasted. Meanwhile, China’s enormous State Grid continues to favour coal and other fossil fuels as they are able to provide a steady and reliable stream of power, compared to renewables’ natural fluctuations in efficiency.
November 24, 2016
Ireland to Plant Largest Grove of Redwood Trees Outside of California
By Steve Williams
An estate in Ireland has revealed plans to create a redwood grove that will be the largest of its kind outside California. The initiative serves as a testament both to Ireland’s heritage and its commitment to fighting global warming.
The initiative, Giants Grove, is spearheaded by the seventh Earl of Rosse, Brendan Parsons and the environmental organization Crann, which promotes the preservation of trees, hedgerows and woodlands throughout Ireland.
November 23, 2016
Obama Administration Rolls Out Series Of New Clean Energy Initiatives
By Betsy Lillian
President Barack Obama’s leadership has catalyzed a global transition toward a clean energy economy, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced. Specifically, from 2010-2015 alone, the U.S. invested in more than $11 billion in international clean energy finance – including grant-based assistance, development finance and export credit – to support countries as they work to meet their growing energy needs and reduce carbon emissions.
At the same time, says the DOE, the U.S. has made research and development (R&D) a top priority – decreasing the cost of clean energy technologies substantially – and previously launched several initiatives to enhance universal access to cleaner energy:
November 22, 2016
(Photo: Michelle Sibiloni/AFP/Getty Images)
Biochar at COP22: Fighting Climate Change From the Ground Up
By Kate Wheeling
Climate delegates from around the globe have converged on the COP22 Village in Marrakech, Morocco, to hammer out the details of implementing the Paris Agreement. We already know that nations’ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, as they stand now, will not be enough to meet the goals of the agreement, and it’s widely accepted that, in order to keep warming below two degrees Celsius, we’ll have to deploy technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere during the second half of the century.
There has been much ado about flashier carbon-capture systems, like geologic sequestration, which involves collecting carbon dioxide and injecting it deep below the Earth’s surface — into depleted oil or gas wells, for example. But such technologies are both expensive and unproven. But in the Green Zone on Monday, Cornell University researchers explained how adding carbon to the soil could help ease climate change while also improving agriculture.
November 21, 2016
Image: American Chemical Society
Scientists Turned Carbon Dioxide Into Solid Rock In 2 Years
By SUSMITA BARAL
Scientists have been working together to reduce carbon emissions on a global scale and are looking for solutions to capture and store carbon dioxide (CO2). Now, a team of researchers have successfully turned CO2 into solid rock in just two years, offering a solution for the abundance of carbon in the atmosphere.
Published in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, the study spotlights the results of a field project in eastern Washington where researchers injected pressurized liquid CO2 into a basalt formation. Basalt is a fine-grained volcanic rock that formed from lava millions of years ago and has previously been found in lab studies to turn CO2 into carbonate minerals.
November 20, 2016
France is serious about carbon: will stop using coal by 2023, might carbon tax US goods if US pulls out of climate agreements
By Jameson Dow
France will shut down all of their coal power plants by 2023, French President Francois Hollande has announced. The announcement took place at COP22, the UN’s annual climate change conference happening now in Marrakech.
France has been a leader in non-polluting electricity sources for a long time, with 95% low-carbon sources and 77% nuclear power (page 4, data from 2014), but they still use some fossil fuels for electricity, getting 3% of their power from coal through the month of November so far. Given that their share of coal for electricity generation has been dropping since the 60s and is now a fairly small amount, it seems likely that France will easily meet their goal of eliminating the power source by 2023.
November 19, 2016
Acting on Climate Change Is Actually Where the Money Is
By Dr. Steven Santos
President-elect Donald Trump has a chance to get America working
In March, Donald Trump, then just one of many GOP presidential candidates, told the Washington Post Editorial Board: “I’m not a big believer in man-made climate change.” This was consistent with Trump’s longstanding tendency to dismiss global warming as a “fictional” problem. Since 2011, he’s rattled off a litany of tweets mocking concern for the issue. And if it wasn’t a joke to him, it was a hoax—one created by the Chinese in order to hurt American manufacturing, as Trump tweeted in November 2012.
Climate change is still (somehow) viewed as a controversial issue, but the data suggests that, in reality, a consensus is developing that any climate-change policy should be science-based. A recent Pew poll shows that more than 75 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of moderate Republicans say climate scientists should have a major role in policy decisions related to the climate.
November 18, 2016
Credit: Youssef Boudlal/Reuters
Climate momentum will continue: US envoy on Trump vote
By Agence France-Presse
The global drive to stave off disastrous global warming will continue regardless of who heads the US administration, Washington’s top climate envoy said Monday on the election of climate change denier Donald Trump.
“Heads of state can and will change, but I am confident that we can and we will sustain a durable international effort to counter climate change,” US special envoy for climate change Jonathan Pershing told journalists on the sidelines of a UN climate conference in Marrakech.
November 17, 2016
Pakistan ratifies Paris Agreement to fight global warming
By: Associated Press
Islamabad: Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry says Islamabad has ratified the landmark Paris Agreement which requires signatory countries to take steps to limit global warming.
In a statement Friday, the ministry said the pact was ratified in a ceremony at the UN headquarters in New York. The Paris deal calls for keeping global temperature increases below 2 degrees Centigrade (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared with pre-industrial times.
Pakistan committed to the accord in April.
Climate change in recent years has caused deadly heatwaves in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province. Earlier this month, the city of Lahore was engulfed in heavy smog for several days.
November 16, 2016
(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
If Trump pulls out of the Paris Agreement, Europe could institute a “carbon tax” on US imports
By Jake Flanagin
Following the upset election of Donald Trump to the US presidency last week, members of the international community have raised concerns over the country’s role in combatting climate change.
On the campaign trail, Trump promised to remove the US from the landmark Paris Agreement, which went into force on Nov. 4, 2016. The president-elect reportedly still plans on a swift withdrawal once he settles into office after Jan. 20 (Inauguration Day in the US).
Editor’s Note: Sign the Global Petition to let the World Leaders know: Protect the Paris Agreement
November 15, 2016
Michael Sullivan/News-Review Photo
UCC Biochar Expo demonstrates the use of kilns to make biochar for farm or forest
By Vera Westbrook, The News-Review
WINCHESTER — About 30 people gathered around a kiln at a Biochar Expo held at Umpqua Community College Saturday where tree branches and shrubbery were burned to demonstrate how easy it is to make biochar.
Biochar is charcoal added to soil to improve soil tilth for forestry and farming.
“One of the most interesting points I learned today is that you do not have to put biochar on your soil every year, you put it on and it lasts, and every year it gets better and better,” said expo visitor Peggy Gilbertson, who tends a garden, including 40 trees, in Roseburg.
The Saturday event was sponsored by the Umpqua Biochar Education Team who is currently working with the UCC welding department to make flame cap kilns to burn biochar that are about 4-feet by 4-feet square in width at the top and 2-feet tall that widen to 3 feet at the bottom.
November 14, 2016
Photo credit: Scott Sporleder
A Changing Climate Equals A Changing Ocean And Coast
By Stefanie Sekich-Quinn
As countries meet this week at COP22, it is imperative that promises made last year at COP21 under the Paris climate accord are seriously pursued, including the Clean Power Plan and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to tackling emissions, the world must also seriously examine, and address, climate change effects that are already impacting our coasts and ocean.
When Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast in 2012, the U.S. received a sobering glimpse of what future sea level rise could look like. Although it had long been theorized that climate change could intensify storms, it wasn’t until a few years after Sandy that studies indicated that climate change had intensified the hurricane and resulting devastation. A Harvard geologist asserts that Hurricane Sandy’s 13-foot storm surge is an “example of what will, by mid-century, be the new norm on the Eastern seaboard.”
November 13, 2016
Big oil slowly adapts to a warming world
By Clifford Krauss, The New York Times
In a warming world, Big Oil doesn’t look quite so big anymore.
A global glut of oil and natural gas has sent prices tumbling over the last two years, and profits are evaporating. Improving auto fuel efficiency standards threaten to depress oil consumption eventually, and fleets of electric vehicles are gradually emerging in China and a few other important markets.
Perhaps most troubling for oil companies over the long term is the goal — agreed to in December by virtually every country in the world at a climate conference in Paris — of staving off a rise in average global temperatures of more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.
November 12 , 2016
How We Plan to Cover the Environment In a Trump Presidency
By SARAH EMERSON
Our nation is about to embark on a four year journey under the presidency of Donald Trump, a demagogue who successfully agitated a rash of scientific doubt throughout his campaign. A man who once called climate change a hoax created by the Chinese. A man who promised the working class that he’d revive a dying coal industry so vigorously, yet so impossibly, that it would increase GDP by $100 billion annually and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs for Americans.
While many aspects of his leadership are ambiguous for now—Trump skimped on policy details during the election—the impact of his appointments will likely resonate throughout the environment, climate, and energy industry. And for anyone still doubting the force of his impact, Trump has spoken in plain words about dismantling the framework that many believe would have reduced carbon emissions and weaned us off fossil fuel power.
November 11, 2016
Wind farms can tame hurricanes: scientists
By Staff Writers, Wind Daily
Huge offshore wind farms can protect vulnerable coastal cities against devastating cyclones like Katrina and Sandy by tempering winds and ocean surges before they reach land, a study said Wednesday.
Had such installations existed at the time, Hurricane Katrina which ravaged New Orleans in 2005, and Sandy, which smashed the coastlines of New York and New Jersey in 2012, would have been reduced to strong but not devastating winds, it said.
“The little turbines can fight back the beast,” said Cristina Archer, an associate professor of Earth sciences at the University of Delaware.
The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, is the first to demonstrate that wind farms, deployed on a grand scale, can buffer violent hurricanes, the researchers said.
November 10 , 2016
Scotland generates enough wind energy to power almost every household for an entire month
By Paul Ward
Wind turbines in Scotland provided enough electricity to supply the average needs of almost all Scotland’s homes last month, according to a report.
Data from WeatherEnergy showed turbines generated 792,717MWh of electricity to the National Grid in October, up more than a quarter on the same month last year.
The amount is enough to supply the average needs of 87% of Scottish households, WWF Scotland said.
November 9, 2016
New Record Set For Storing Solar Energy In A Technique That Uses Water As A Battery
For solar energy to be able to provide abundant power, scientists have to solve two key issues: improving the cost effectiveness of the technology and storing the energy so that it can be used at all hours, mainly at night. An interdisciplinary team at Stanford has recently made substantial progress toward solving the storage issue.
They have demonstrated how electricity captured from sunlight can be stored in the form of chemical bonds. To date, this is the most efficient means of storing electricity. The team say that if they are able to find a way of lowering the cost of their technology, it would be a massive step toward making solar power a viable alternative to current energy sources.
November 8, 2016
Geoengineering to Alter Climate Moves Closer to Reality
By: Anna Hirtenstein
Researchers say greenhouse-gas removal needed to avert warming. Large-scale greenhouse gas removal among methods considered
A United Nations body is investigating controversial methods to avert runaway climate change by giving humans the go-ahead to re-engineer the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere.
So-called geoengineering is seen as necessary to achieve the COP21 Paris agreement clinched in December, when 197 countries pledged to keep global temperatures rises below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), according to researchers who produced a report for the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.
“Within the Paris agreement there’s an implicit assumption that there will need to be greenhouse gases removed,” said Phil Williamson, a scientist at the U.K.’s University of East Anglia, who worked on the report. “Climate geoengineering is what countries have agreed to do, although they haven’t really realized that they’ve agreed to do it.”
November 7, 2016
PHOTOGRAPH BY KATE HOLT, EYEVINE, REDUX
Climate Change Resilience May Mean Planting More Trees
By: Tim McDonnell
In the late 1970s, the legendary Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai began to promote the idea that planting trees could be an effective way for rural women to combat poverty in their communities. Trees provide a home-grown source of fuel and income for farmers. By the time of her death in 2011 at age 71, Maathai had become the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize and could claim a legacy of some 51 million trees planted around her home country.
Now, her daughter Wanjira Mathai is building on her mother’s work on trees, but with a new focus: Protecting Kenyans—particularly farmers— from the impacts of manmade climate change.
November 6, 2016
How many wind turbines would we need to power the planet?
By LEANNA GARFIELD, BUSINESS INSIDER
Wind energy is a deeply underrated resource. Though the US invested $14.5 billion in wind-power projects last year, wind farms still provide just 4 percent of the nation’s electricity, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
Globally, that percentage is about the same – Harvard researchers estimate that non-urban wind farms have the technical potential to produce up to 40 times the electricity the world consumes. What would a world powered by wind actually look like?
November 5, 2016
Bike tour highlighting climate change visits Pittsburgh on Sunday
By Bill O’Driscoll
Mindy Ahler and Ryan Hall started their journey of more than 4,000 miles on Aug. 27, on the coast of Oregon. Retracing Lewis & Clark’s historic route, they pedaled the highways and backroads of northern-tier states like Montana and North Dakota, crossing mountains and plains.
They have mostly hauled all their own gear, and have tent-camped and stayed with contacts along the way, when possible organizing public events in towns they pass through. They’ve been meeting both formally and informally with people from rural areas to big cities to talk climate change and what we can do about it. They’ll wrap the trip with a series of events starting Nov. 13 in Washington, D.C.
November 4, 2016
Why America’s Dirtiest Power Companies Are Investing Billions in Clean Energy
By Travis Hoium
The U.S. energy industry is in a state of transition, and there may be no company whose situation exemplifies that more than Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK). As recently as last year, Mother Jones Opens a New Window. ranked it the dirtiest power company in the U.S., primarily based on the large number of coal power plants it operates. But that report was based on 2013 data, and the Duke Energy of 2016 is rapidly changing along with the rest of the industry. Formerly dirty utilities like Duke Energy, AEP (NYSE: AEP), and Southern Company (NYSE: SO), which were on the top 5 of the dirtiest companies list, are now all leaders in renewable energy. But Duke’s transition may be the most surprising given its investments in coal over the last few decades.
November 3, 2016
Big Oil Is in Big Trouble
By Andy Rowell
Something significant happened on Friday that warrants more than just a few column inches in a newspaper.
With the most divisive presidential election in U.S. history just days away from concluding, it is easy to understand why more is not being made of the news, but just to tell you something seismic happened on Friday last week.
The world’s largest listed oil company, Exxon, announced that it was going to have to cut its reported proved reserves by just under a fifth—by 19 percent.
It would be the biggest reserve revision in the history of the oil industry. It is yet another sign that Big Oil is in big trouble.
November 2, 2016
Agencies work to combat global warming in Monterey Co.
By: Maya Holmes
More than 20 agencies from the Monterey Bay came together at the third annual Climate Summit to celebrate how they have helped reduce Monterey County’s carbon foot print and discuss how they can keep the efforts going.
“Look at places where we have successful projects that maybe could be replicated and expanded, and scaled so that we can have a bigger and better impact,” said Monterey Bay Regional Climate Action Compact co-chair Brennen Jensen. “Then identify some of the future initiatives that might be possible.”
November 1, 2016
Photo Credit: National Geographic Channels / Ismail Ferdous
David Letterman turns global warming reporter for NatGeo
By: Verne Gay
WHAT IT’S ABOUT Last winter, David Letterman and a production crew went to the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh — population 204 million — to produce a story on India’s growing reliance on coal and attempts to also expand renewable energy. He interviews, among others, the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, who says that India needs international assistance if his renewable energy mandate is to be achieved. Meanwhile, Letterman learns of a plan to bring electricity to 300 million Indians currently without power. In this second-season premiere of NatGeo’s series on climate change, Cecily Strong of “Saturday Night Live” also reports on solar energy in Nevada.
October 31, 2016
Getty Peter Cade
7 Ways to Power Your Home With Renewable Energy
By Avery Thompson
Unless you’re filthy rich, you’re probably always on the lookout for ways to save a couple bucks. One of the best ways to cut your monthly bills is by investing in renewable energy. Not from the power plant, but stuff you can scare up yourself.
Using renewable energy to power your home can reduce or completely eliminate your utility bills, and the tax incentives for installing renewables can make them even more cost effective. Here are seven different ways to power your home with renewable energy.
October 30, 2016
FABIAN BIMMER / REUTERS
The World Just Made A Major Shift Toward Renewable Energy
by Nick Visser
The world installed more new renewable energy last year than coal, as countries attempt to shift away from fossil fuels and take advantage of massive cost reductions in wind and solar technology.
More than half of all energy generation capacity added in 2015 came from renewable sources, as the world installed more than half a million solar panels a day and two wind turbines every hour, the International Energy Agency announced Tuesday.
October 29, 2016
The Dutch just made a vacuum to suck pollution from the air
by Nathaniel Mott
Breathing polluted air can lead to heart disease, cancer, and other health issues that can take years off someone’s life. As the world lurches towards using energy sources that don’t release these harmful particles into the atmosphere, Dutch scientists revealed on Tuesday that they built a stopgap solution to the problem: A giant outdoor vacuum that filters pollution out of the air around it. This is the device that might help us live long enough to see clean energy take over the world.
October 28, 2016
New model suggests scrubbing CO2 from the atmosphere
by Blaine Friedlander
New Cornell research suggests an economically viable model to scrub carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to thwart runaway, point-of-no-return global warming.
The researchers propose using a “bioenergy-biochar system” that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in an environmental pinch, until other removal methods become economically feasible and in regions where other methods are impractical. Their work appeared in the Oct. 21 edition of Nature Communications.
October 27, 2016
Why investor pressure is growing on oil and gas firms to tackle methane emissions
by Michael Holder
Methane, despite having a far more powerful global warming effect, often plays second fiddle to carbon dioxide when policymakers and businesses are focusing on how to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Certainly, CO2 makes up a larger proportion of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, but methane traps heat 40 times more effectively as carbon dioxide and is thought to be responsible for around a quarter of global warming happening today.
October 26, 2016
How crop waste can give it back to soil and keep the air clean too
The Times of India
NEW DELHI: US-based Brian Von Herzen and his team at Climate Foundation India believe that agricultural waste can be processed into not just something useful for farmers but also enrich the soil by putting back carbon into it.
Paddy straw and wheat residues are usually burned by farmers in Punjab and Haryana in the absence of affordable alternatives to dispose them of. Every year, in November and February , burning of agricultural residue in these states causes severe air pollution in Delhi.
October 25, 2016
(Credit: Howard Aru)
Freshwater aquaculture project targets climate change impacts
By Jonas Cullwick
A Freshwater Aquaculture Trials and Governance Project for Vanuatu was officially launched Monday by the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biodiversity, Matai Seremiah, at a ceremony at The Melanesian hotel in Port Vila aimed at combating the impacts of climate change.
Speaking at the launching ceremony, Minister Seremiah, emphasized that the Republic of Vanuatu was particularly susceptible to the impacts of climate change and the country was ranked the most vulnerable country in the world to both geological and climate risks.
“The impacts of climate change affect our people, our prosperity and security. To combat the impacts of climate change on us we need to be active on many fronts,” he reminded attendance.
“We must continually seek to understand what climate change is doing to us and how we can adapt to the challenges that it presents us. We must learn more, enhance our skills and advance the way we are doing things,” he added.
October 24, 2016
(Mark Mulville/The Buffalo News)
New refrigerant from Buffalo cools cars without heating the globe
by T.J. Pignataro
The air conditioner in your car will be changing in the next several years, no longer relying on the coolant that keeps you comfortable in summer.
Scientists believe that is good, because the coolant in most cars today threatens the environment when it gets into the air. In its place will be a new coolant, which is expected to reduce global warming.
In fact, at a global environmental conference last weekend in Kigali, Rwanda, more than 170 nations agreed to phase out refrigerants known as hydrofluorocarbons that contribute to climate change. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the deal “a monumental step forward.”
A new, environmentally friendlier coolant coming to millions of new cars in years ahead will have Buffalo roots.
October 23, 2016
Exposed: The Climate Fallacy of 2100
By Robert Wilder, Daniel M. Kammen
If we do not plan, now, to limit carbon emissions beyond this century, we will foolishly raise the oceans dramatically for thousands of years.
It’s shocking for me (Robert) to accept that my home could be wiped out by greatly rising seas. That’s because I live on a hill north of San Diego, 45 feet above sea level and more than a mile inland from the coast. Equally shocking to me (Dan) is that the current coastline of my beloved Mendocino County, California, could largely disappear, a place where I spend weekends with my daughters exploring rivers that run inland, deep into wine country. These inundations won’t happen this century, but that is little solace. At the rate the world is going, land so dear to our hearts could slip under the sea and stay there for thousands of years.
October 22, 2016
New copper catalyst could close the carbon cycle, making ethanol from atmospheric CO2
In a quest to find a way to convert carbon dioxide into something useful, researchers from Oak Ridge National Labs in TN stumbled across an inexpensive, room-temperature catalyst for turning CO2 into ethanol. The new catalyst is made of copper nanoparticles, electroplated onto a substrate of vapor-deposited, nitrogen-doped graphene nanospikes, all atop a slice of n-type silicon semiconductor.
“We discovered somewhat by accident that this material worked,” said lead author Adam Rondinone. “We were trying to study the first step of a proposed reaction when we realized that the catalyst was doing the entire reaction on its own.”
October 21, 2016
Photograph: Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images
The gap between ambition and action in tackling global warming
by Sabine Fuss and Jan Minx
Sabine Fuss and Jan Minx: The world’s governments have agreed to ambitious climate goals. But if we are to hit our new targets, scientists and innovators need to move quickly to close the gap between hope and reality.
The Paris Agreement on Climate Change has been a big surprise to many. All countries agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, keeping the world “well below” 2°C or even at 1.5°C of warming. By including the 1.5°C target, the Agreement has become more ambitious than many observers had expected. And the party is still not over: against the odds, countries required less than a year for the Agreement to enter into force. This seems a triumph for climate diplomacy.
October 20, 2016
Stop waiting for a big breakthrough on climate change. This is what we’ll get instead.
by Brad Plumer
Global warming can sometimes feel like this big, hopelessly intractable problem that no one’s doing much about. But the first two weeks of October have seen a genuinely impressive barrage of climate action around the world.
Consider what’s gone down so far:
October 19, 2016
SHUTTERSTOCK / CALIN TATU
Nearly Cooked: What 400 Parts Per Million Of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Really Means
by Dr. Cara Augustenborg
“In the centuries to come, history books will likely look back on September 2016 as a major milestone for the world’s climate.”
Kahn was referring to news that in a month when we would expect to observe the lowest concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere over the year, the Earth’s atmospheric CO2 concentration remained over 400 parts per million (ppm).
To many, 400 ppm is just a number and this news appears insignificant, but to those who follow climate science 400 ppm is an ominous milestone. That number has risen exponentially since the Industrial Revolution, before which our atmosphere contained just 275 ppm of CO2.
October 18, 2016
Breaking Ground on a Bold New Vision to Address Climate Change: Restoring North America’s Amazon
by P.J. Marshall
On November 4, the historic Paris Agreement for global action on climate change will enter into force, catalyzing collective action by governments, civil society organizations, and businesses to collaborate on building a 2°C future.
“Now we must move from words to deeds and put Paris into action,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “We need all hands on deck—every part of society must be mobilized to reduce emissions and help communities adapt to inevitable climate impacts.”
October 17, 2016
The world just took one of the biggest steps yet to fight global warming
by Brad Plumer
Climate change will never get solved in a single flourish. If the world’s nations are ever going to stop the planet from warming unbearably, they’ll have do so step by step, pushing down emissions across a dizzying variety of sectors and sources.
On Saturday, the world quietly took one of those steps — and it was a crucial one. In fact, this was one of the single biggest measures ever taken to address global warming.
October 16, 2016
Image Credit: Shutterstock
The UAE’s Clean Energy Sector: Opportunities Aplenty For Entrepreneurs
by Neil Petch
It has been one of the biggest stories of our age.
Our polluting technologies have been a key factor behind climate change, pumping excessive carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as we burn fossil fuels like oil and gas to get the necessary energy for our daily living needs. Meanwhile, our very reliance on these fossil fuels has meant they have become harder and more expensive to source. So we know we need energy to keep the lights on and we also know oil, gas and coal are finite resources that are causing a great deal of damage.
It’s for these reasons that the UAE has led the way in becoming an early adopter and leading country for promoting renewable energy sources.
October 15, 2016
Clean Power Just Turned Back the Clock on Global Warming Gases
by Joe Ryan
It looks as if all those wind and solar farms in the U.S. are making a dent in greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
During the first six months of the year, carbon dioxide emissions from America’s energy industry dropped to the lowest point since 1991, according to a statement Wednesday from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
October 14, 2016
An Overview of the current Biochar and Activated Carbon Markets
By Hugh McLaughlin, PhD, PE — Lee Enterprise Consulting, Inc.
Biochar is an emerging market; growing rapidly, still in its infancy, but with gigaton market potential when we, as in humanity, start addressing the climate crisis. Activated carbons are a mature market of about one million tons annual production, which is growing slowly. They are basically like fraternal twins; they have a lot in common, they share the same world, and they are different.
First, let’s explain the basic difference between THREE materials: activated carbon, charcoal and biochar. Activated carbon, also known as activated charcoal and several other ‘active/activated source-material’ names, all come down to the implication of the modifier ìactivatedî. When used in conjunction with adsorbents, ‘activated’ refers to a small set of processing techniques that increase the internal microporosity of the original carbon-rich source material. All ‘activation’ processes remove individual carbon atoms and create individual nooks and crannies in the carbon-rich material, which are the adsorption sites. The key to activated carbon is that it is optimized for specific adsorption application (water, vapor, certain adsorbates, etc.) and the adsorption capacity is packed into as dense a material as possible to minimize the volume of adsorbent necessary. In the end, activated carbon is an adsorbent ñ intended to remove something, typically organic compounds, from either vapor or liquid streams.
October 13, 2016
Wind-powered device can produce 11 gallons per day of clean drinking water from the air
by Derek Markham
WaterSeer is a low-tech, low-cost atmospheric water condenser that could help create water self-sufficiency in communities around the world.
A new device developed by VICI-Labs, in collaboration with UC Berkeley and the National Peace Corps Association, aims to provide a sustainable source of clean safe water for the millions without a reliable water supply. In the developed world, where most homes and businesses have ready access to clean water at the turn of a tap, we don’t really have to worry about most waterborne diseases, or dehydration, or the ability to wash our selves, our clothes, or our eating utensils, but those worries are still very real for the millions around the world without a reliable clean water source. The WaterSeer could help to alleviate some of those water poverty issues.
October 12, 2016
Photo by Neha Mathew.
India Joins the Paris Agreement: Another Big Step for the World, One Giant Leap for India
by Neha Mathew
Earlier this week, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change finally met the requirements for entry into force, marking a historic global moment and demonstrating unprecedented cooperation between the world’s biggest carbon emitters — including China, the U.S., the EU, and India. This news has ensured that the Paris Agreement will enter into force well ahead of schedule, and it is because of leadership from countries like India that we have witnessed the biggest step forward yet in strengthening the global commitment to climate action.
And for India — the world’s fourth largest carbon emitter — this announcement is a strong affirmation of its commitment to its sustainable development and carbon emission reduction goals.
October 11, 2016
Photo by Derrick Wang
This Smog-Eating Tower Is Cleaning Beijing’s Dirty Air
by Charlie Schmidlin
Last week brought the public opening of the Smog Free Tower in Beijing, a 7-meter high structure that’s being billed as the largest outdoor air purifier in the world—it collects 75% of pm2.5 and pm10 airborne smog particles, cleans 30,000 cubic meters per hour using ion technology and green electricity, and creates a radius of clean air around the Tower in which to gather.
The mind behind it is Dutch artist and architect Daan Roosegaarde, who first struck upon the idea in 2013 when visiting Beijing and noticed the intense pollution that blanketed the city. Instead of passing through and letting the environmental problem worsen, he decided to use his collaborative resources at Netherlands-based design firm Studio Roosegaarde to tackle a creative solution.
October 10, 2016
A desert farm is growing tomatoes on seawater and solar power
by Ephrat Livni
Agriculturalists dream of making deserts bloom. Now the dream is coming true using sun, seawater, and little else.
On 20 hectares in the South Australian desert, Sundrop Farms—officially launched on Oct. 6—uses a field of 23,000 mirrors to produce energy for electricity and water conversion. Seawater is the sole irrigation source, piped in from the Spencer Gulf five kilometers away. The water is thermally desalinated, nutrients are added to nourish plants, and the greenhouse growing begins. But the farm is not entirely energy independent yet, relying on the grid for up to 15% of its power supply, particularly in winter when the sun is weak.
October 9, 2016
[Photo: Flickr user davebloggs007]
Whoops, We Haven’t Been Counting A Huge Source Of Carbon Emissions: Dams
by Adele Peters
When Costa Rica brags about running on 100% renewable electricity for months at a time, it’s because the country relies on hydropower for a big chunk of its grid. But dams are not quite the clean energy source they seem to be. In a new study, researchers calculated that the dams around the world—used for hydropower, flood control, water supply, and other human needs—emit more greenhouse gases than the entire country of Canada.
As the world tries to figure out how to drastically cut emissions, it turns out we haven’t been counting dams as a major source of those emissions. Every year, the world’s million reservoirs emit roughly a gigaton of greenhouse gases; that’s 1.3% of global emissions, or about the same percentage emitted by coal mining.
October 8, 2016
Scientists May Have Underestimated Global Sea Level Rise
by Mike Brown
The rise in global sea levels has been one of the most tangible results of climate change, and it might be worse than we thought. A study published September 19 in Geophysical Research Letters explained that because the areas measured had lower than average rises, historical data may have leaned more conservative in its findings.
“It’s not that there’s something wrong with the instruments or the data,” said Dr. Philip Thompson, associate director of the University of Hawaii Sea Level Center, in an interview with Phys.org published Monday. Thompson’s team worked with researchers at Old Dominion University and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “For a variety of reasons, sea level does not change at the same pace everywhere at the same time. As it turns out, our best historical sea level records tend to be located where past sea level rise was most likely less than the true global average.”
October 7, 2016
US Consulate General Chiang Mai Goes BioChar After Conference with Warm Heart
by City Life
The US Consulate General Chiang Mai has declared that it will go fully BioChar after a conference today with Michael Shafer from Warm Heart introducing the facts and theory behind the burning technique, followed by a demonstration to officials and a training program for the gardeners at the consulate.
Exactly two months after the new US Consul General in Chiang Mai took her position, Jennifer Harhigh told Citylife that if the training goes well, she hopes to see the US Consulate fully BioChar by the end of the month.
October 6, 2016
Potatoes and biochar are not friends
Studies have shown that adding biochar to soil can improve soil fertility, increase nutrient utilisation in plants, improve soil water-holding capacity, increase crop yield and reduce emission of greenhouse gases.
However, if you are a potato farmer, your joy may be short-lived. Biochar and potatoes do not go very well together – at least not if you are aiming at saving water, according to results from Aarhus University.
October 5, 2016
Donald Trump Says Global Warming Is a Chinese Hoax. China Disagrees.
Two years after President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that their countries would work together to combat climate change, Republicans and conservatives in the United States continue to cite China’s rising carbon emissions as a reason not to bother cutting our own.
Earlier this month, Donald Trump’s economic adviser Stephen Moore claimed that limiting our carbon pollution is pointless because of China’s supposedly growing coal dependency. “Every time we shut down a coal plant in the US, China builds 10,” Moore told E&E News. “So how does that reduce global warming?”
October 4, 2016
Scientists: Stop celebrating climate change progress. The work’s not nearly done
by Tribune news service
A team of top scientists is telling world leaders to stop congratulating themselves on the Paris agreement to fight climate change because if more isn’t done, global temperatures will likely hit dangerous warming levels in about 35 years.
Six scientists who were leaders in past international climate conferences joined with the Universal Ecological Fund in Argentina to release a brief report Thursday, saying that if even more cuts in heat-trapping gases aren’t agreed upon soon, the world will warm by another 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit by around 2050.
That 1.8 degree mark is key because in 2009 world leaders agreed that they wanted to avoid warming of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels. Temperatures have already risen about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, so that 2 degree goal is really about preventing a rise of another degree going forward.
October 3, 2016
Climate Change And The Astrobiology Of The Anthropocene
by Adam Frank
You can’t solve a problem until you understand it. When it comes to climate change, on a fundamental level we don’t really understand the problem.
For some time now, I’ve been writing about the need to broaden our thinking about climate. That includes our role in changing it — and the profound challenges those changes pose to our rightly cherished “project” of civilization.
Today, I want to sharpen the point.
But first, as always, let’s be clear: We have not gotten the science wrong. The Earth’s climate is changing because of human activity. That part has been well-established for awhile now, in spite of the never ending — and always depressing — faux “climate debate” we get in politics.
October 2, 2016
The U.S. is getting closer to Hillary Clinton’s vision of a ‘clean energy superpower’
By Chelsea Harvey
During Monday’s presidential campaign debate, Hillary Clinton predicted, “Some country is going to be the clean energy superpower of the 21st century.”
The implication was clear: That country could be us. And a new federal report suggests that we’ve recently been making strides in getting there.
The new report, released Wednesday by the Department of Energy, is the latest in an of annual series analyzing the progress of clean energy in the U.S. — specifically the growth in wind turbines, solar technology, electric vehicles and LEDs, and the reduction in their costs. And this year’s update is a rosy one: Costs are down, installations are up and emerging technologies like smart buildings and grid-connected batteries are moving up on the horizon.
October 1, 2016
New Wind Turbines Could Power Japan for 50 Years After a Single Typhoon
by George Dvorsky
Conceptual image of a typhoon turbine array. (Image: Challenergy)
Typhoons are generally associated with mass destruction, but a Japanese engineer has developed a wind turbine that can harness the tremendous power of these storms and turn it into useful energy. If he’s right, a single typhoon could power Japan for 50 years.
September 30, 2016
What would happen if the world suddenly went vegetarian?
By Rachel Nuwer
Eliminating meat from our diets would bring a bounty of benefits to both our own health and the planet’s – but it could also harm millions of people.
People become vegetarians for a variety of reasons. Some do it to alleviate animal suffering, others because they want to pursue a healthier lifestyle. Still others are fans of sustainability or wish to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
No matter how much their carnivorous friends might deny it, vegetarians have a point: cutting out meat delivers multiple benefits. And the more who make the switch, the more those perks would manifest on a global scale.
September 29, 2016
Chinese Investment Stokes Global Coal Growth
By Beth Walker
Chinese companies and banks are continuing to drive global coal expansion, as state owned companies, backed by state loans, build coal-fired power plants across the world. This is despite commitments from China’s top leaders to deliver clean energy and low carbon infrastructure for developing countries.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/ Tobixen
September 28, 2016
A key part of Obama’s climate legacy gets its day in court
By Brady Dennis and Ann E. Marimow
President Obama’s signature effort to combat global warming will be in the hands of federal judges this week, as an appeals court in Washington weighs the legality of the administration’s plan to force sharp cuts in power plants’ carbon emissions and push the nation toward cleaner energy sources.
Even after a marathon hearing Tuesday, the legal questions about the Clean Power Plan are almost certain to remain unresolved when Obama leaves office. But the outcome of the case ultimately could shape the president’s environmental legacy and influence how millions of Americans get their electricity.
Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post
September 27, 2016
Iowa State, Chevron team up to develop pilot plant, advance biofuel technology
Source Newsroom: Iowa State University
Newswise — AMES, Iowa – Iowa State University’s Lysle Whitmer walked the length of the bio-oil production line – from the 55-gallon solvent tank to the twin-screw extruder with its mixing, chopping, heating and pressurizing functions to the reactor in the middle and then to the product separators and the solvent recycling system.
Whitmer, the senior thermochemical research engineer for Iowa State’s Bioeconomy Institute, said it takes special expertise to make all those operations work together.
“This is the culmination of everything we’ve learned about building pilot plants in the past 10 years,” he said. “This is really a gem that represents everything we’ve learned thus far.”
Credit: Photos by Christopher Gannon/Iowa State University.
September 26, 2016
We know this sounds nuts but you can now actually *listen* to climate change
by Lilian Min
While it completely makes sense to be more concerned with immediate horrors like one of the candidates running for election, war and terrorism around the world, and police brutality, it’s easy for people to forget that looming in the backdrop of our everyday life is the specter of climate change. Within cities, it may be hard to grasp just how global warming-based change is affecting nature’s delicate balances.
September 25, 2016
10 Things That Could Disappear in Your Lifetime, Thanks to Climate Change
By Prachi Gupta
Though some American politicians continue to debate whether climate change is real, scientists have long sounded the warning bells that human-caused global warming is rapidly getting worse. Some warn that we may be close to the point of no return, leaving future generations to deal with the calamitous impacts of earth’s rising temperatures and increasingly extreme weather patterns. (The most alarmist studies claim that climate change will usher in the sixth mass extinction). Unless our society can curb human emissions, here are 10 things that could be gone in the next century:
September 24, 2016
The Paris Climate Accord Just Passed a Crucial Threshold
by Michael Reilly
In case you haven’t noticed, it’s getting hot in here. “Here” being Earth. July and August both set records for the hottest ever, and 2016 is all but guaranteed to be the warmest year on record. But if we’re lucky, what really sets this year apart is that it could be the moment when we as a civilization finally decided to put a stop to global warming.
That was the take-home message from the United Nation’s General Assembly meeting today, where Secretary General Ban Ki-moon led the announcement that an additional 31 countries have signed on to the Paris climate accord. That brings the total number of countries formally on board to 60, accounting for nearly 48 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
September 23, 2016
Britain’s leading climate change sceptic Nigel Lawson says global warming is real
by Ian Johnston
One of Britain’s leading climate change sceptics – former Chancellor Nigel Lawson – has admitted that humans are causing global warming.
Speaking to the House of Lords’ Economic Affairs Committee, Lord Lawson said he did not “question for a moment” that carbon dioxide was a greenhouse gas.
And he accepted there was “huge agreement” among scientists that it was having “some effect” on the atmosphere.
September 22, 2016
The world reached 3 dangerous climate change milestones this summer
by Max Plenke, Mic
In 1848, two ships — the HMS Terror and the HMS Erebus — sank while trying to navigate through the Northwest Passage. It was brutal: a 900-mile-long sea route punctuated with heavy sea ice that connects the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans through an arctic maze. Neither ship made it. All 129 men on the expedition died.
Last month, the Crystal Serenity, a 14-deck, 820-foot cruise ship, sailed from Anchorage, Alaska to New York City using that same pass, but without the icy obstacles. What was formerly the perilous end of a crew of British Royal Navy sailors is now, for the first time ever, a luxury cruise route.
Stefan Hendricks, Alfred Wegener Institute
September 21, 2016
Record-smashing August means long-awaited ‘jump’ in global warming is here
by Dr. Joe Romm
We appear to be in the midst of the long-awaited jump in global temperatures.
And that means “The kinds of extreme weather we have seen over the past year or so will be routine all too soon, but then even worse records will be set,” as Kevin Trenberth, one of the world’s leading climatologists, told me.
NASA has reported that last month was not merely “the warmest August in 136 years of modern record-keeping,” it tied with this July 2016 for the “warmest month ever recorded.” And for 11 straight months (starting October 2015), the world has set a new monthly record for high temperature.
September 20, 2016
Will Global Warming Make Fish Stupid?
Ocean acidification seems to make certain fish blind to predators.
by John Metcalfe
There’s already evidence that rapidly warming oceans are harming fish. The acidification of the water—something that happens as the seas absorb human-produced carbon dioxide—is thought to make certain species anxious and prone to hiding, and even destroy their ability to recognize each other.
Now there are indications it could turn them dangerously dumb, too. When exposed to raised CO2 levels, spiny damselfish seem to be unable to sense signs of danger emitted by their fellow damselfish, according to a study in Scientific Reports. That’s bad news, because if a predator is roaming the reefs chomping on fish, an entire micropopulation is in effect twiddling its fins waiting to be eaten.
September 19, 2016
Climate Change Study Finds Last Fossil Fuel Car Must Be Sold By 2035 To Meet Temperature Goals
by Susmita Baral
Transportation is responsible for 14 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emission and a new study has found that in order to reach global warming goals—set by world leaders last year—the last fossil fuel car would have to be sold by 2035. The report, which has been backed up by three European research groups, spotlights the importance of transitioning to clean electric cars.
September 18, 2016
The World Hits A Global Warming Milestone This Month. Going Back Will Be Costly.
by Amir Jina
The world was abuzz last week when China and the U.S. formally joined the Paris Agreement. As the world’s two biggest emitters, this was indeed good news and a positive step forward in confronting climate change. But it was just that: a “step.” The fact is that we have postponed our response to climate change for so long that mitigation is no longer sufficient—we will have to invest heavily in adaptation too. The planet itself will underscore that fact in the coming weeks when it does something truly remarkable—and with little fanfare.
September 17, 2016
Obama to focus on climate change after he leaves office
by National Observer
U.S. President Barack Obama says he will make climate change his personal mission after leaving the White House. He made the comments during a speech in his home state of Hawaii on Friday.
The President starred in a comedy skit earlier this year, depicting himself as bored and listless after leaving office, but now appears to be getting serious. He ratified the Paris climate agreement alongside Chinese president Xi Jinping on Saturday and announced he was going to use his “megaphone” as an ex-president to push for climate policy after his term ends.
Photo of U.S. President Barack Obama by AP
September 16, 2016
Extreme ‘warm West, cold East’ winters now the norm?
Posted by Rob Jordan-Stanford
This past July was the hottest single month in Earth’s recorded history, but warming isn’t the only danger climate change holds in store.
Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in the simultaneous occurrence of extremely cold winter days in the Eastern United States and extremely warm winter days in the West.
“There’s this idea that the past few winters were more extreme than usual, particularly since the conditions in the East and West were so different,” says Noah Diffenbaugh, associate professor of Earth system science at Stanford University and senior author of the new study in the Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres.
(Credit: Mark Zilberman/Flickr)
September 15, 2016
The Political Divide on Climate Change: Partisan Polarization Widens in the U.S.
by Riley E, Dunlap, Aaron M. McCright and Jerrod H. Yarosh
The November 2008 election of Barack Obama as 44th President of the United States created great optimism among supporters of many progressive causes, including environmental protection and action on climate change. Obama’s victory marked the end of the George W. Bush Administration, widely viewed as the most anti-environmental administration in our nation’s history, 1 – based in part on its record of denying the significance of human-caused climate change and blocking federal action to deal with it. 2 – It also coincided with growing societal attention to climate change.
September 14, 2016
Climate change blamed for collapse of Hawaiian forest birds
by Jennifer Sinco Kelleher
HONOLULU (AP) — Native forest birds on the Hawaiian island of Kauai are rapidly dying off and facing the threat of extinction as climate change heats up their habitat and allows mosquito-borne diseases to thrive, according to a study released Wednesday.
Higher temperatures caused by global warming increase the spread of diseases such as avian malaria in wooded areas once cool enough to keep them under control, the research says. The findings are an early warning for forest birds on other islands and other species worldwide that rely on rapidly disappearing habitat, according to the study published in the journal Science Advances.
September 13, 2016
Q&A: An ocean of threats must be tackled to protect the world’s ‘blue economy,’ U.S. undersecretary says
by Ann M. Simmons
They are the lifeblood of our planet, responsible for more than half of the oxygen we breathe. They regulate the climate, provide a major source of protein for 3 billion people, and millions of livelihoods — including 1 of every 6 jobs in the United States — are connected to the marine environment.
But the world’s oceans are under extreme duress, and humans are primarily to blame.
“I think we sometimes take it for granted, especially if you are located someplace where you don’t see the ocean every day,” Catherine A. Novelli, U.S. undersecretary for economic growth, energy and the environment, said during a recent interview with The Times.
(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
September 12, 2016
California extends most ambitious US climate change law
by Alicia Chang
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown extended the nation’s most ambitious climate change law Thursday by another 10 years as California charts a new goal to reduce carbon pollution.
The Democratic governor signed the legislation in a Los Angeles park amid opposition from the oil industry, business groups and Republicans. It expands on California’s landmark 2006 law, which set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
(AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
September 11, 2016
10 Images Show What Coastal Cities Will Look Like After Sea Levels Rise
by Taylor Hill
Sea-level rise is coming. Even if we keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above historic norms—the benchmark for avoiding catastrophic climate warming—we may still see oceans creep four feet farther inland by 2100 and rise 20 feet by as soon as 2200.
That’s according to a new study published in the July issue of Science. Researchers looked at three decades’ worth of data on ice-cap oxygen levels, then analyzed it to determine how varying amounts of CO2 in the modern-day atmosphere lined up with atmospheric CO2 and sea levels in the prehistoric past.
AT&T Park, San Fransico, CA
Photo: Courtesy Climate Central
September 10, 2016
Alaska’s most detailed maps will reveal the impacts of climate change
by Kate Baggaley
A new set of 3D topographic maps offer a gorgeous, high-resolution look at Alaska’s rugged terrain. The maps were created from satellite images at a resolution of 2 meters, making them the most precise maps yet of the Arctic. Traditionally, maps of this region have been based on images taken from aircraft, which were limited by the Arctic’s inhospitable conditions and resulted in less detailed coverage.
September 9, 2016
3 Big Trends Shaking Up the Energy Industry
by Peter Diamandis
We are at the cusp of an energy revolution.
This post is a look at how three technologies — solar, batteries, and electric vehicles (EVs) — are poised to disrupt a $6 trillion energy industry over the next two decades.
I had the chance to sit down with Ramez Naam, chair of Energy and Environmental Systems at Singularity University and acclaimed author of the Nexus series, to discuss these major forces and their implications.
Let’s dive in.
September 8, 2016
Warming of oceans could be humanity’s ‘greatest hidden challenge’, report warns
The warming of the oceans may become the “greatest hidden challenge” of our generation, a major new report has warned.
The 456-page document, published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), describes the effects of the huge amount of energy that has been absorbed by the sea in recent decades.
The scale of the changes is potentially huge affecting marine life from viruses, bacteria and plankton, fish and seabirds to the climate, weather and human health.
September 7, 2016
Western Innovator: Farmers test biochar’s benefits
by Eric Mortenson
Calling Kelpie Wilson a “biochar believer” isn’t a joke.
“I’m a believer in science,” she said, “and the science tells us biochar is worth pursuing.”
And at this point in her life, Wilson is in chase mode. She is part of a Southern Oregon group, the Umpqua Biochar Education Team, or UBET, that is working with 10 farmers to make biochar, mix it with manure and apply it to their land.
September 6, 2016
Biochar technology for mine rehab
Nickel mining companies Marcventures Mining and Development Corp. (MMDC) and Benguetcorp Nickel Mines Inc. (BNMI) have been given the green light by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to engage in a mine rehabilitation project using activated biochar technology. According to Marcventures vice chairman Isidro “Butch” Alcantara, the project is not only in compliance with the new policy direction of the DENR to rehabilitate mined-out areas, but also complements the Surigao nickel miner’s initiatives in providing sustainable, organic and environmentally enhancing livelihood activities.
September 5, 2016
Flooding of Coast, Caused by Global Warming, Has Already Begun
by Justin Gillis
NORFOLK, Va. — Huge vertical rulers are sprouting beside low spots in the streets here, so people can judge if the tidal floods that increasingly inundate their roads are too deep to drive through.
Five hundred miles down the Atlantic Coast, the only road to Tybee Island, Ga., is disappearing beneath the sea several times a year, cutting the town off from the mainland.
Source: The New York Times
September 4, 2016
Breakthrough as US and China agree to ratify Paris climate deal – Campaigners hail key moment in battle against global warming as presidents Obama and Xi announce deal on eve of G20 summit in Hangzhou
by Tom Phillips, Fiona Harvey, and Alan Yuhas
The United States and China, the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, have announced they will formally ratify the Paris climate change agreement in a move campaigners immediately hailed as a significant advance in the battle against global warming.
Speaking on Saturday, on the eve of the G20 summit in Hangzhou, US president, Barack Obama, confirmed the long-awaited move, the result of weeks of intense negotiations by Chinese and American officials.
September 3, 2016
NASA aircraft probe Namibian clouds to solve global warming puzzle
Off the coast of Namibia, for several months a year, a layer of smoke drifts over a persistent deck of low clouds. It’s the perfect place to investigate the thorniest problem in all of climate science: how haze and clouds interact to influence global warming, either boosting or moderating it. Now, after weeks of delay, an airborne research campaign is getting started in this diaphanous natural laboratory.
Buena Vista Images
September 2, 2016
Scientists solve puzzle of converting gaseous carbon dioxide to fuel – saving the planet from climate change with a grain of sand
Source: University of Toronto
Every year, humans advance climate change and global warming — and quite likely our own eventual extinction — by injecting about 30 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
A team of scientists from the University of Toronto (U of T) believes they’ve found a way to convert all these emissions into energy-rich fuel in a carbon-neutral cycle that uses a very abundant natural resource: silicon. Silicon, readily available in sand, is the seventh most-abundant element in the universe and the second most-abundant element in the earth’s crust.
(Full Story and Pictures)
Converting greenhouse gas emissions into energy-rich fuel using nano silicon (Si) in a carbon-neutral carbon-cycle is illustrated.
Credit: Chenxi Qian
September 1, 2016
Global warming is melting the Greenland Ice Sheet, fast
A new study measures the loss of ice from one of world’s largest ice sheets. They find an ice loss that has accelerated in the past few years, and their measurements confirm prior estimates.
As humans emit heat-trapping gases, we expect to see changes to the Earth. One obvious change to be on the lookout for is melting ice. This includes ice atop mountains, ice floating in cold ocean waters, and the ice within large ice sheets or glaciers. It is this last type of ice loss that most affects ocean levels because as the water runs into the oceans, it raises sea levels. This is in contrast to melting sea ice – since it is already floating in ocean waters, its potential to raise ocean levels is very small.
August 31, 2016
Chemists develop promising cheap, sustainable battery for grid energy storage
(Credit: Shutterstock/University of Waterloo)
Chemists at the University of Waterloo have developed a long-lasting zinc-ion battery that costs half the price of current lithium-ion batteries and could help enable communities to shift away from traditional power plants and into renewable solar and wind energy production.
Professor Linda Nazar and her colleagues from the Faculty of Science at Waterloo made the important discovery, which appears in the journal, Nature Energy.
August 30, 2016
10 Terrifying Before and After Photos That Will Silence Global Warming Deniers
by Dylan Sevett
The climate crisis is becoming more apparent, when looking at recent photos of lakes, archipelagos, and coral reefs and comparing them to photos taken 20 years ago — and in some cases, just a decade ago. As the ozone layer continues to evaporate and polar ice caps continue to melt, this causes erratic weather patterns and dramatic sea level rises. NASA is now saying that global sea levels could rise by as much as three feet in the next century.
(Full Story and Pictures)
August 29, 2016
Biochar seen as potential market for forest
A type of biomass may be an untapped market for the vast stands of ponderosa pine in the San Juan National Forests that are in dire need of thinning. Ponderosa timber does not have a very lucrative market, and forest sales are mostly for a limited firewood market.
The situation creates a vexing problem for government foresters charged with thinning out overstocked forests in order to minimize risk of wildfire and beetle infestation.
The alternative biochar market is seen as a potential solution.
August 28, 2016
Hopes rise for underground carbon storage scheme
by Tim Radford
LONDON—Geologists have resolved one great problem about the capture of carbon dioxide from coal-fired or gas-fired power stations and its sequestration deep in the Earth, with what appears to be the prospect of rock-solid carbon storage.
Once there in the right rock formations, there’s no reason why it should escape. That is, it won’t react with groundwater, corrode the rocks around it and dissolve its way back to the surface in 10,000 years—or even 100,000 years.
August 27, 2016
Scary and gross – 3 disturbing consequences of a warming planet
by Katherine Hayhoe
What do anthrax-riddled reindeer corpses, a pile of flaming horse manure, and thawing cold war waste at a top-secret military base in Greenland have in common? These are just three of the increasingly bizarre and disturbing impacts of a warming climate that made headlines this summer. Climate scientists like myself are always trying to anticipate the unexpected – but the full implications of a warming planet are starting to catch even us by surprise.
August 26, 2016
How hot was it in July? Hotter than ever.
Continuing a string of global heat records, last month was the hottest July ever recorded, NASA said. But the agency added a wrinkle: Because July is always the hottest month of the year, this July was the hottest of any month since adequate record-keeping began in 1880.
The recent El Niño contributed to the record, as did overall warming linked to greenhouse gas emissions.
August 25, 2016
Global warming a challenge for country’s crops
By China Daily
Extreme weather patterns, pests and diseases are impacting food security in China and the world, according to experts at the 7th International Crop Science Congress being hosted in Beijing this week.
Earth’s overall temperature rose by about 0.75 C over the last century, according to Zhang Weijian, the chief scientist of agro-ecology at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
August 24, 2016
Louisiana floods: Is this what climate change looks like?
A flood like the one that ravaged Louisiana over the past few days has a 0.2 percent chance of occurring any given year and should only occur once every 500 to 1,000 years, according to scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
But there have been eight such storms in the United States alone since May 2015.
August 23, 2016
Alaskan village votes on relocating due to climate change
A tiny Alaskan village has voted to abandon their ancestral home to the rising seas, becoming possibly the first settlement in the United States forced to relocate due to climate change.
Shishmaref’s 650 residents voted 89-78 in favour of a long-discussed proposal to move the entire village, to an as-yet-undecided new location, according to an unofficial count by the city clerk. Official results are expected on Thursday.
August 22, 2016
After scorching heat, Earth likely to get respite in 2017
The Earth is likely to get relief in 2017 from record scorching temperatures that bolstered governments’ resolve last year in reaching a deal to combat climate change, scientists said on Wednesday.
July was the hottest single month since records began in the 19th century, driven by greenhouse gases and an El Nino event warming the Pacific. And NASA this week cited a 99 percent chance that 2016 will be the warmest year, ahead of 2015 and 2014.
August 21, 2016
This weightlifter danced through the Olympics to bring attention to Climate Change
Source: Fast Co Exist
Some people dance to remember, some people dance to forget. Olympian David Katoatau dances to save his home country, Kiribati, from disappearing into the sea.
Kiribati is a tiny republic made up of 33 coral atolls and reef islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean—it’s more than 1,000 miles from anywhere. Since the nation’s highest point is just two meters above sea level, climate change threatens to swallow the equatorial island chain.
August 20, 2016
Plasma etching of biochar to reduce cost of energy storage devices
Source: Nano Werk
Two SDSU engineering researchers are using biochar, an inexpensive carbon-rich material and a new method of creating the porous surface needed to capture electricity to reduce the cost of supercapacitors (Journal of Power Sources, “Biochar activated by oxygen plasma for supercapacitors”).
The ability to absorb and discharge energy quickly make supercapacitors an integral part of energy harvesting systems, such as the regenerative braking systems of hybrid vehicles, according to explainthatstuff.com. However, supercapacitors are expensive.
August 19, 2016
Seven ways climate change affects our health
Climate change is making heat waves stronger and more frequent, air pollution worse, and allowing vector-borne diseases to expand their range. It’s also compromising our drinking water, causing more extreme weather events, and impacting our mental health. And the costs will be great: just this June, the World Health Organization estimated that in the twenty years after 2030, climate change will cause “approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress.”
August 18, 2016
A stunning prediction of climate science — and basic physics — may now be coming true
A lot of people deny climate change. Not many, though, deny gravity.
That’s why a recent animation released by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory — well, it came out in April, but people seem to be noticing it now — is so striking.
August 17, 2016
Hitting the plastic slopes: Climate change pushes ski resorts to ‘weatherproof’
by Nicole Ireland
Ski and snowboarding resort operators in Canada and around the world are increasingly focused on “weatherproofing” their businesses as climate change threatens their supply of fresh powder.
“It’s become a common topic in many resort destinations, not only here, but in Europe, the United States,” said Peter Williams, director of Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Tourism Policy and Research. (Full Story)
August 16, 2016
Chronic hunger lingers in the midst of plenty
New Delhi—In a fraught global economic environment, exacerbated by climate change and shrinking resources, ensuring food and nutrition security is a daunting challenge for many nations. India, Asia’s third largest economy and the world’s second most populous nation after China with 1.3 billion people, is no exception. (Full Story)
August 15, 2016
The Food Security Climate Resilience (FoodSECuRE) Facility
Source: World Food Programme
The Food Security Climate Resilience (FoodSECuRE) Facility is a multilateral, multi-year, replenishable fund being developed by WFP to financially and programmatically support community-centred action to reinforce and build climate resilience. This ground breaking instrument specifically links climate and hazard forecasting with flexible multi-year financing, providing governments the means to quickly unlock funding to scale-up food and nutrition responses as well as disaster risk reduction activities before climate disasters occur. (Full Story)
August 14, 2016
As clouds head for the Poles, time to prepare for food and water shocks
by Charles Iceland, Co-authored with Betsy Otto and Richard Waite
A changing climate means less rain and lower water supplies in regions where many people live and much of the planet’s food is produced: the mid-latitudes of the Northern and Southern hemispheres, including the U.S. Southwest, southern Europe and parts of the Middle East, southern Africa, Australia and Chile. As WRI-Aqueduct’s future scenarios for water supply show, diminished water supplies will be apparent in these areas by 2020 — less than four years away — and are expected to grow worse by 2030 and 2040. (Full Story)
August 13, 2016
Climate change threatens the basis of food security in Latin America and the Caribbean: Agriculture
Source: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean
The impact of climate change in Latin America and the Caribbean will be considerable because of its economic dependence on agriculture, the low adaptive capacity of its population and the geographical location of some of its countries, notes a new study by FAO, ECLAC and ALADI. (Full Story)
August 12, 2016
Scientists caught off-guard by record temperatures linked to climate change
By Zoe Tabary
LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Record temperatures in the first half of 2016 have taken scientists by surprise despite widespread recognition that extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and intense, the director of the World Climate Research Program said. (Full Story)
August 11, 2016
A climate scientist and economist made big bucks betting on global warming
Climate scientist James Annan and climate economist Chris Hope made a nice sum this year for a bet they made on global warming in 2008. As Hope tells the story:
“The record warmth of 2015 just made me £1,334 richer. While the extra cash is a nice bonus, it sadly demonstrates that the atmospheric dice remain loaded towards increasing climate change. (Full Story)
August 10, 2016
Overall Americans are becoming less skeptical about global warming, but there are still partisan divisions
As temperatures climb higher, global warming doubt among Americans is falling to record lows. Recent reports indicate that the first half of 2016 was the hottest since records have been kept. At the same time, the number of Americans who do not think there is solid evidence for rising global temperatures has reached a new low: just 15%. (Full Story)
August 9, 2016
Scientists warn world will wiss key climate target
Leading climate scientists have warned that the Earth is perilously close to breaking through a 1.5C upper limit for global warming, only eight months after the target was set.
The decision to try to limit warming to 1.5C, measured in relation to pre-industrial temperatures, was the headline outcome of the Paris climate negotiations last December. (Full Story)
August 8, 2016
Lake Tanganyika fisheries declining from global warming
The decrease in fishery productivity in Lake Tanganyika since the 1950s is a consequence of global warming rather than just overfishing, according to a new report from an international team led by a University of Arizona geoscientist. (Full Story)
August 7, 2016
How Climate change is increasing forest fires around the world
by Anne-Sophie Brändlin
Have wildfires increased globally over recent years? And if so, is global warming to blame? Research has illuminated this, along with what wildfires do to us and our environment, and which areas are most vulnerable. (Full Story))
August 6, 2016
As earth swelters, global warming target in danger of being missed
by Alister Doyle
The Earth is so hot this year that a limit for global warming agreed by world leaders at a climate summit in Paris just a few months ago is in danger of being breached.
In December, almost 200 nations agreed a radical shift away from fossil fuels with a goal of limiting a rise in average global temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times while “pursuing efforts” for 1.5C (2.7F). (Full Story)
August 5, 2016
Global warming will make it nearly impossible to hold the Summer Olympics
Olympic organizers have made climate change a central theme at the current games—and for good reason. A sobering new study shows that by the 2084 Olympics, rising temperatures will make it practically impossible for most cities to host the summer games.
In a new commentary published in The Lancet, a team led by Berkeley researchers Kirk Smith and John Balmes warn that the future of the summer Olympics is in jeopardy. (Full Story)
August 4, 2016
Engineering student designs revolutionary energy storage solution
Home Technology Energy & Green Tech
A Lancaster engineering undergraduate has invented a new storage solution that could provide the missing-link needed for a renewable energy revolution. The energy storage market in the US alone is estimated to be worth $200-600billion in 10 years. While most research and development efforts have been focused on improving battery technologies, a Lancaster student believes a mechanical solution could provide the answer. (Full Story)
August 3, 2016
Cumulative sea level change since April 2002
An animation showing “sea level fingerprints,” or patterns of rising and falling sea levels across the globe in response to changes in Earth’s gravitational and rotational fields. Major changes in water mass can cause localized bumps and dips in gravity, sometimes with counterintuitive effects. Melting glaciers, for example, actually cause nearby sea level to drop; as they lose mass, their gravitational pull slackens, and seawater migrates away. (Full Story)
August 2, 2016
Looking, quickly, for the fingerprints of climate change
When days of heavy rain in late May caused deadly river flooding in France and Germany, Geert Jan van Oldenborgh got to work.
Dr. van Oldenborgh is not an emergency responder or a disaster manager, but a climate researcher with the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. With several colleagues around the world, he took on the task of answering a question about the floods, one that arises these days whenever extreme weather occurs: Is climate change to blame? (Full Story)
August 1, 2016
Scientists have found a perfect illustration of how the climate is spiraling ‘out of control’
Several months ago, climate scientist Ed Hawkins made headlines with a stunning animated visualization of the change in global temperature over the past 150 years. At the time, he told The Washington Post that the graphic was an attempt to “communicate in a different way,” and his efforts seemed to have worked: The visualization was shared thousands of times and covered by numerous news outlets touting its simple and effective demonstration of the progression of global warming over time. (Full Story)