Tuesday, April 20th, 2010
One of the benefits we noted when humanity first was able observe the earth from above our atmosphere, from outer space, is that it enabled us to gain a new perspective on how very special our planet is. Viewed from a distance, it is obvious that we are all living in one global environment. And from a distance, this environment doesn’t look as vast as it does from our vantage point on earth.
The land looks more precious, the seas less like unlimited places to discharge our wastes, and the atmosphere, less like a place to emit air pollution at night so no one sees it, to the fragile envelope which, more than anything, makes earth the special place it is.
Indeed, it is the atmosphere that permits life as we know it to flourish on earth. And we owe most of this new knowledge to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration!
Tuesday, April 20th, 2010
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton got a warm welcome from the mixed American and Canadian audience that paid up to $175 to hear his keynote speech at the first Essex County Enviro-Expo.
The former president spoke to a nearly full house of 3,000. Citing a myriad of world challenges; hunger, water, terrorism, climate change, and global economics, Clinton said all solutions point to the development of sustainable energy on a global scale.
Few people attain a global perspective on world events as “citizen” Clinton. As a disaster relief expert, Clinton mentions a litany of environmental catastrophes, natural and man made, that have involved his personal intervention. He has seen first hand the effects of hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunami’s and in each case he advocates opportunities to rebuild in an earth friendly and sustainable way. The plan to rebuild Haiti is such an example. (more…)
Tuesday, April 20th, 2010
The eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjoell volcano is spewing a substantial amount of CO2 into the atmosphere every day, but the grounding of most airplanes in Europe is offsetting the volcano’s carbon emissions.
Scientists estimate that the volcano is emitting 150,000 to 300,000 tons of CO2 per day, an amount equal to the daily emissions of a small- to medium-sized European country.
But according to estimates from the European Environment Agency and other groups, daily CO2 emissions from the aviation industry in the 27 nations of the European Union are 344,000 to 440,000 tons per day. (more…)
Friday, April 16th, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released the15th annual U.S. greenhouse gas inventory report, which shows a drop in overall emissions of 2.9 percent from 2007 to 2008.
The downward trend is attributed to a decrease in carbon dioxide emissions associated with fuel and electricity consumption.
An emissions inventory that identifies and quantifies a country’s primary anthropogenic1 sources and sinks of greenhouse gases is essential for addressing climate change. (more…)
Tuesday, April 13th, 2010
The British 10:10 campaign has only been in action for two months and has already received the praises of Oscar winner and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Al Gore, who claimed the movement was so good it should have a presence in the United States.
350.org , 10:10 is now taking its message around the world. By going global 10:10 will extend its unique ethos – along with its simple, contagious idea of asking people to cut their emissions by 10 per cent starting in 2010 – to more than 30 countries including the USA, India, France, Germany, New Zealand and China.
The plan is to hold the biggest day of climate action ever seen on the 10th day of the 10th month, 2010 and although that is still six months away, more than 800 local groups across the globe have signed on. (more…)
Monday, April 12th, 2010
This month marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, an event that has attracted millions to environmental causes. But winning passage of meaningful legislation on climate change requires more than slogans and green talk — it demands intense, determined political action.
Size doesn’t matter.
Or at least, size is not the only thing that matters. In 21st century American democracy, massive public support is certainly desirable, especially over the long run. But what really counts with Congress is intensity.
A huge majority of Americans favor gun control, for example. According to the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, four out of five believe a police permit should be required for the purchase of a firearm. (more…)
Tuesday, April 6th, 2010
Wind energy has been a fast growing sector of the overall energy market. It is renewable energy that can be produced on an industrial scale that can rival the older established energy sources of coal, gas, oil, hydro, and nuclear.
Now, it accounts for only two percent of the whole energy market, but government officials expect wind to produce one fifth of the total electricity supply in the United States by 2030. Proponents claim wind power can reduce the threat of global warming.
However, a recent study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has found that the opposite is true. Mass produced wind farms can actually affect climate in a negative way. (more…)
Thursday, April 1st, 2010
The Asilomar conference on geoengineering had been touted as a potentially historic event. What emerged, however, were some unexpected lessons about the possibilities and pitfalls of manipulating the Earth’s climate to offset global warming.
In the beginning, I had my doubts. The Asilomar International Conference on Climate Intervention Technologies, held last week at the Asilomar conference grounds near Monterey, Calif., was touted as an “unprecedented” gathering of 175 scientists, environmental groups, philosophers, and public policy wonks to discuss the governance of geoengineering — that is, large-scale, intentional manipulation of the Earth’s climate to offset rising temperatures.
The meeting was obviously set up to channel the spirit of the first Asilomar conference in 1975, during which biologists drew up voluntary guidelines to help reassure the public that genetically modified organisms would not be released into the world. Asilomar 1.0 is remembered as a landmark event in the evolution of scientific ethics and a turning point in the public acceptance of biotechnology.
Asilomar 2.0 seemed to pale in comparison. For one thing, geoengineering may be a scary idea, but the dangers were nowhere near as immediate as the unintentional release of genetically modified organisms. (more…)
Tuesday, March 30th, 2010
Once upon a time a trip around the world made major headlines. Now it is a commonplace and a convenient way to measure air quality around the world by plane. A plane outfitted to measure greenhouse gases has taken off from Colorado on the first leg of a 24 day mission that will take it back and forth across the Pacific Ocean from the Arctic to the Antarctic.
The mission is part of a three year project designed to determine when and where the gases enter and leave the atmosphere. That in turn could help policymakers as well as scientists on how to handle and measure climate change.
The scientific questions that this study is focused on are (1) understanding the global sources and sinks for CO2, CH4, and other carbon cycle gases, and more broadly (2) determining large scale rates of tracer transport in the atmosphere. In other words what are the seasonal ups and downs of these gases and where do they increase (sources) and where do they decrease (sinks). (more…)
Tuesday, March 30th, 2010
According to a poll conducted by the Gallup Organization in early March , Americans are less concerned about eight specific environmental issues than they were one year ago. Fewer than half of those surveyed–32 percent–said they felt that that climate change will have an impact on their way of life as compared to a high of 40 percent in 2008.
Close to 50 percent of Americans believe the threat of global warming is exaggerated. Fifty-three percent believe that economic growth, especially with regard to jobs and unemployment, is more important even if it has a negative impact on the environment, according to Frank Newport, Gallup’s editor in chief, as quoted in an article in USA Today .
Surprisingly, many Americans perceive that environmental woes in the US are improving; those polled were less concerned about other environmental problems than at any other time in the past 20 years. According to Gallup, in 1989, 72 percent of Americans were worried about pollution of rivers, lakes, and reservoirs.
By 2004, only 54 percent were concerned, and 46 percent are worried about water pollution today. Concern about pollution of drinking water is at the top of the list. (more…)