June 7th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Scientists at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) are warning that by 2100, Greenland’s melting ice sheet may drive more water than previously predicted toward New York, Boston, Halifax and other Northeast cities’ coastlines.
Published in last week’s edition of Geophysical Research Letters, the study shows moderate to high melt rates could cause sea levels to rise by 12–20 inches.
“Major Northeastern cities are directly in the path of the greatest rise,” says Aixue Hu, PhD, a project scientist in UCAR’s Climate and Global Dynamics Division.
“The oceans will not rise uniformly as the world warms,” explains coauthor Gerald Meehl, PhD, a UCAR senior scientist. “Ocean dynamics will push water in certain directions, so some locations will experience sea level rise that is larger than the global average.”
Photo by James Hannigan, © UCAR
Read More:Melting Ice Sheet Threatens Northeast
June 4th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
Thanks to swine flu, cute innocent little pigs have gotten a bad name, but restoring pigs’ reputation may come from an unlikely place.
Their poop! In the Netherlands, a pig farm with 2,700 pigs uses their crap to produce electricity that feeds power into the Dutch national grid.
Like cats and dogs, pigs can be house broken. So these porkers poop through slats on the floor and the slurry of muck is channeled to a bunch of mixing tanks.
Once in the tanks, the poop is mixed with low-quality grain and carrot juice—to increase methane output—then bacteria breaks down the waste in a digester tank and finally the gas is sucked up into a generator to produce electricity.
This system reduces emissions, shrinks carbon footprints and may help cattle farms—known contributors to global warming—possibly become carbon neutral.
Via the Associated Press.
Read More:Pig Poop Can Fight Climate Change!
May 31st, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
At the end of the 21st century, could life as we know it come to an end?
It’s a disturbing environmental possibility, unless we wake up and smell the greenhouse gases.
Reporter Bob Woodruff explores the “perfect storm” of population growth, resource depletion and climate change over the next 100 years in Earth 2100, a two-hour ABC News special that will air Tuesday evening (9–11 p.m.).
Program simulations include famine leading to massacre in San Diego and unprecedented drought in Las Vegas. But they also feature positive examples: solar-powered buildings in New York City and the townspeople of Greensburg, Kansas, harnessing the power of wind and rain to rebuild their city after 2007’s devastating tornado. Each scenario is based on predictions from prominent scientists who understand we’re at a critical environmental crossroads.
“If we continue on the business-as-usual trajectory, there will be a tipping point that we cannot avert,” Harvard University Professor John Holdren, PhD, science adviser to President Obama, tells Woodruff. “We will indeed drive the car over the cliff.”
For Your Organic Bookshelf: The Rough Guide to Climate Change
Photo: ABC News/Donna Svennevik
Read More:Facing Earth’s Demise
May 26th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Reaction to committee passage of The American Clean Energy and Security Act has been swift.
“The bill represents a crucial step forward in addressing the global climate crisis, the need for millions of new green jobs to end the recession, and the national security threats that have long been linked to our growing dependence on foreign oil and other fossil fuels,” says former Vice President Al Gore, board chairman of the Alliance for Climate Protection. “I encourage Congress to further strengthen this excellent legislation during floor consideration and move to pass this bill in both the House and the Senate this year.”
“Every day, it becomes clearer that we need to create new jobs and industries that will drive the clean-energy future, keeping energy prices low for families and businesses, all while addressing the challenge carbon emissions pose to our climate,” said Reed Hundt, cochair of Coalition for Green Bank, a consortium of leaders in energy development. “This legislation will provide reliable low-cost financing critical to a private-sector–led transition from carbon to clean energy.”
Tom Cochran, CEO and executive director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, applauds the bill, but he views it through a local lens.
“We’re concerned that the committee agreed on a bill that provides billions of dollars for state governments but excludes direct funding for cities, which is where the majority of climate protection actions have been taking place, as demonstrated by the 950 mayors who have signed The U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement,” he said. “We’re recommending that at least 20% of the direct proceeds from auctions created by this bill that go to states instead go directly to cities to support efforts already under way by nearly 1,000 mayors.”
Ralph Izzo, chairman of PSEG, a publicly traded diversified energy company, acknowledges groups may have specific agendas.
“We cannot let the search for perfection impede real progress,” he said. “Chairmen Waxman, Markey and Boucher listened to their colleagues and worked to produce revised legislation that reflects a balanced and collaborative approach. We’ve seen real leadership in the crafting of this comprehensive bill, and I am hopeful that we’ll see something move through Congress this year.
“This bill marks a turning point in the discussion and is an indication that the country is getting serious about the need to address global warming,” he added. “The threat of climate change requires that we transform the way we produce and consume energy, and the way we live our lives. How we respond will be the defining issue of our time.”
Read More:Experts Laud Energy Bill
May 25th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
On Thursday, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce approved HR 2454, The American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), by a vote of 33 to 25.
Sponsored by Congressmen Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Edward Markey (D-MA), the bill is designed to create millions of new clean-energy jobs, save consumers hundreds of billions of dollars in energy costs, enhance America’s energy independence and cut global-warming pollution.
Specifically, ACES contains four goals:
- Promote renewable sources of energy, carbon capture and sequestration technologies, clean electric vehicles, and the smart grid and electricity transmission
- Increase energy efficiency across all sectors of the economy, including buildings, appliances, transportation and industry
- Place limits on emissions of heat-trapping pollutants—cutting global-warming pollution by 17% (compared to 2005 levels) in 2020, by 42% in 2030 and by 83% in 2050
- Protect U.S. consumers and industry while promoting green jobs during the transition to a clean-energy economy
“This bill, when enacted into law this year, will break our dependence on foreign oil, make our nation the world leader in clean-energy jobs and technology, and cut global-warming pollution,” Waxman said.
“With this plan, we will shape a new energy destiny for our country, where we innovate more and pollute less,” Markey added. ”Today, we have chosen bold action to preserve good-paying jobs here in America and preserve our planet.”
Joseph Mendelson, director of global-warming policy at the National Wildlife Federation, applauded the committee’s vote.
“The House is going into Memorial Day recess with a bang,” he said. “Committee passage of comprehensive energy legislation is a shot heard around the world. It marks a historic turning point in climate politics that secures America’s role as a leader in the clean-energy revolution.”
For Your Organic Bookshelf
The Waxman Report: How Congress Really Works
Climate Change: Picturing the Science
Read More:Committee Approves Clean Energy Act
May 23rd, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
In an attempt to combat global warming, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked the Environmental Protection Agency in 2005 for a waiver under the Clean Air Act to institute a program that would significantly reduce vehicle pollution.
Under federal law, the EPA was supposed to grant the state’s request to toughen emission standards, unless the agency found compelling reasons to deny it. With Bush II in office, the EPA last year rejected the request, and U.S. automakers celebrated.
On Tuesday, President Obama and the Governator will team up to correct this mistake by devising meaningful greenhouse gas emission standards for passenger cars and trucks, including cohesive regulatory standards for the nation’s automakers. By 2016, the new federal standards would ideally achieve a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions nationwide.
FYI: Thirteen states—Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington—have adopted California’s standards and are awaiting favorable EPA action. Together, they represent approximately 40% of the U.S. market.
For Your Organic Bookshelf
Read More:Redressing Bush’s Car Copout
May 18th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
I love animals and nature, but bugs, especially big bugs, freak me out. So bad news for me! Scientists claim global warming is increasing the size of certain spiders.
The Northeastern Greenland wolf spider, or Pardosa glacialis, can grow as long as 1.6 inches, but a new study reveals over the past ten-years the exoskeletons of wolf spiders has enlarged by 2%.
Published in journal Biology Letters, researchers suggest warmer temperatures are stretching out the wolf spider’s hunting season, giving them more time to feed and fatten up. Here’s the problem with that.
If female wolf spiders, which are bigger than males, get any larger they’ll be able to produce more offspring and it’s hard to say how this will affect the local ecosystem.
Luckily, spiders are known cannibals, so that could thin out the herd. Phew!
Via National Geographic News.
Read More:Hotter Temps Mean Bigger Spiders!
May 14th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
I’m not religious. I don’t get it. I think it can be divisive and polarizing, unnecessarily splitting people on important issues, such as global warming.
A new report by The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life claims white United States evangelicals are the least likely to believe human activities are contributing to climate change:
Most scientists have reached the conclusion that the planet’s climate is changing because of human-induced factors, notably the emissions from burning of the fossil fuels that drive the global economy.
Among religious groups Pew found that those who said they were unaffiliated with any faith tradition were the most likely to accept that humanity was warming the planet, with 58 percent of them taking that view.
Among white mainline Protestants the figure was 48 percent, it was 39 percent for black Protestants and 34 percent for white evangelical Protestants, a key base for the Republican Party whose leaders have often cast doubt on the link between emissions and climate change.
Having briefly grown up Roman Catholic, ditching the church by the time I was a teenager, I think the concept of rapture is the driver behind this thinking. If the world is going to end anyway, why bother trying to save it.
Read More:Evangelists Biggest Skeptics of Climate Change
April 24th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
Most people buy organic food because someone told them it’s pesticide-free, and that’s it. In our grab-and-go world, I doubt many consumers spend time researching what they eat.
But the benefits of organic food extend beyond the omission of pesticides. Organic farming is more environmentally-friendly than conventional agriculture, free of genetically modified organisms and organics are considered more nutritious and much more.
In this podcast, Peter Melchett, policy director of the United Kingdom’s Soil Association, discusses the less talked about advantages of going organic, such as humane treatment of organic food animals and lower emissions of climate changing greenhouse gases. Global food production is one of the major contributors to global warming.
Read More:Good Things You Might Not Know About Organics…
April 9th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
Imagine Texas slowly melting into the ocean and after 8 years it completely disappeared. It’s inconceivable, but that’s exactly what happened to Arctic sea ice. Recent satellite imagery reveals between 2000 and 2008 maximum sea ice extent was nearly 280,000 square miles less than the Artic average between 1970 and 2000, roughly the size of Texas.
Melting sea ice puts Artic animals and plants a risk, as well as humans. Glacial ice acts as giant mirrors reflecting sunlight back into space. Loss of ice diminishes this effect and could worsen global warming. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged the United States and the international community to act against climate change, saying we have no time to lose.
Via National Geographic News.
Read More:Artic Sea Ice Melting Faster, Reforming Slower