Sunday, February 7th, 2010
“All indications are that we should be alarmed about the future of sea level rise and should be doing something about it now.”
So say Orrin Pilkey and Rob Young, eminent coastal scientists, who wrote The Rising Sea to provide substance for that alarm and to offer suggestions as to how we can plan ahead to reduce the severity of the impact of the rising sea.
The authors begin by reminding us that it’s not a distant prospect. They describe what is happening to Alaskan shoreline villages such as Kivalina and Shishmaref, the Pacific atoll nations such as Kiribati, the Maldives, the Marshall Islands, Tokelau and Tuvalu, and the city of Venice, places already grappling with rising sea level.
Rising tide gauge data and an increase in coastal erosion along many of the planet’s shorelines provide clear evidence of the rising sea and of the warming of the planet.
Friday, February 5th, 2010
Friday, December 18th, 2009 was one of the saddest days of my career. The Copenhagen Climate Conference had ended with a non-binding Copenhagen Accord. And no one knew what it meant. When I returned to the negotiating center, it was as empty as the Copenhagen Accord. The NGO and government leaders had abandoned the center. And the accord’s emission reduction commitments were blank.
On January 31st, we got to see what the pledges are. The small island nation of the Maldives has committed to 100% mitigation by 2020. The Maldives foreign minister announced, “The Maldives’ submission of its mitigation action is voluntary and unconditional…The Maldives looks forward to its mitigation action being registered and publicly available.” That’s leadership.
Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010
Not much in terms of effective policy came out of the 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen, or COP15. In fact, the best that can probably be said is that nations agreed to disagree; poor ones unwilling to take on carbon emission reductions that would stunt their industrial growth, and rich ones unwilling to take the blame for emissions that have, to date, caused most of the problems and benefited rich nations most of all.
To highlight this ambivalence, on January 26 Yvo de Boer, United Nation’s senior climate change official, noted that governments could either comply with proposed emissions limits by the deadline, or later if they preferred – a paradox that has led many to ask what the purpose of the deadline was?
Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
Concern about global warming among U.S. adults has dropped significantly, a new poll says, with fewer than 50 percent of Americans saying they are “somewhat” or “very worried” — a 13 percent decrease from a poll taken in October 2008.
The percentage of Americans who believe global warming is occurring fell 14 percent to 57 percent, and the percentage who think global warming is caused primarily by human activities fell 10 percent to 47 percent, according to the poll funded by the Yale Project on Climate Change and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication.
Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
In the wake of a controversy over a dubious claim made about melting glaciers by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a top Chinese official says that the panel should include the views of global warming skeptics in its next report.
Xie Zhenhua, vice-chairman of China’s national Development and Reform Commission, told a meeting of rapidly developing nations that the IPCC needs to “adopt an open attitude to scientific research and incorporate all views.”
Tuesday, January 26th, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed new ozone standards to protect health and environmental values. These standards will apply to the lower atmosphere, to the air we breathe. In the upper atmosphere, ozone is good.
The “hole” in the ozone layer over Antarctica has worried scientists for years since ozone in the upper atmosphere protects the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation from the Sun.
According to research at the University of Leeds, the hole in the ozone layer is now steadily closing. This is a concern, since its repair could actually increase warming in the southern hemisphere, the scientists at Leeds conclude.
Monday, January 25th, 2010
Growing algae for biofuels is an energy-intensive process that can generate more greenhouse gases than the process sequesters, according to a new study.
Examining the life cycle of algal biofuels, researchers from the University of Virginia found that the process emits high levels of greenhouse gases because algal production requires using large amounts of fertilizer.
Tuesday, January 19th, 2010
David Archer and Stefan Rahmstorf are notable climate scientists. They are also excellent communicators of the science to the general reader, as is apparent in their new book The Climate Crisis: An Introductory Guide to Climate Change. The authors seek to provide an accessible and readable account of the “treasure trove” of the IPCC reports.
They distinguish their work sharply from the Summaries for Policy Makers officially provided by the IPCC, which are negotiated between government representatives and exclude much of what scientists think and write in the full report.
But while they draw heavily on the latest IPCC report and feature many of its informative graphs and tables, they also refer to new findings since the 2006 cut-off date for the report, and draw attention to weaknesses they sometimes see in the report.
Most of the book deals with global climate science, the focus of IPCC Working Group I, with subsequent brief attention given to the impacts of climate change (Working Group II) and to mitigation (Working Group III). (more…)
Tuesday, January 5th, 2010
The Middle East’s first carbon dioxide recovery plant has been opened at the Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company. This is also one of the first in the world to successfully recycle carbon dioxide air emissions. The $55 million facility at the company’s Sitra facility was formally inaugurated by Gulf chairman and adviser to the Prime Minister for oil and industrial affairs Shaikh Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa, in the presence of board members, company officials and guests.
Carbon dioxide is useful for many industrial operations. It can be used as a feedstock if compressed and transported and it can be used in carbonation of beverages. These are useful and productive recycling efforts but the industry using the carbon dioxide must be close by. (more…)
Monday, January 4th, 2010
An old Israeli joke describes how God led Moses through the desert to the Holy Land for 40 years, through hardships and dangers, only to lead the Israelite nation to the only spot in the Middle East where there isn’t a drop of oil.
Two thousand years later, things have remained pretty much the same. Today, Israel is considered an “island-state”, with over 99% of its capacity produced from imported fossil fuels.
In alignment with global trends, Israel has experienced a recent surge of new ventures in the field, comprising commercial, academic and regulatory initiatives. Although a pioneer and home to world leaders in the RE field, the post-80s low oil pricing era left the Israeli RE industry relatively dormant in comparison with its blossoming high-tech activity. (more…)