Sep 22, 2009 | 16
President Obama gave his first major speech on climate change today at the United Nations, part of a special session convened by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The reason for the session? Lack of speed in international negotiations to address climate change.
You can see the president's speech here:
In addition to reaffirming the U.S. commitment to addressing climate change, the president listed some recent accomplishments: new efficiency standards for all vehicles, billions of dollars for renewable energy development, and the nation's first mandatory greenhouse gas reporting system. He even noted a plan to work with the world's other largest economies, known as the G20, to "phase out fossil-fuel subsidies so that we can better address our climate challenge."
May 20, 2009 | 18
Capturing the carbon dioxide that wafts up the smokestack after burning coal (or any other fossil fuel) has been identified by everyone from President Obama to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as a critical technology to help keep the lights on while combating climate change. And now there has been yet another successful demonstration that the technology to capture that CO2 from flue gas might actually work: chilled ammonia can capture more than 88 percent of the greenhouse gas before it goes up the smokestack.
Alstom Power and We Energies have released preliminary data on their carbon capture pilot project at Pleasant Prairie, Wisc. The pilot plant, set up to siphon the CO2 from a small stream of the total flue gas using chilled ammonia, not only captured most of the CO2, it captured it in a more than 99 percent pure form, according to Robert Hilton, vice president of power technologies and government affairs at Alstom, which is important for any future storage or industrial reuse. "We can [capture] 90 percent [of the CO2] and do it consistently," he notes. "We've done over 90 percent at times."
May 4, 2009 | 23
What is the "right" level of carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere to prevent "dangerous" interference with the climate? In the last two centuries, concentrations have risen to roughly 387 parts per million—and are rising by roughly 2 ppm per year thanks to the more than 30 billion metric tons of CO2 humans put into the atmosphere annually through things like burning fossil fuels and cutting down trees. (That's up from 280 ppm for all of recorded history before the Industrial Revolution.)
Climatologist James Hansen, for one, thinks the answer is 350 ppm. While recent changes are small compared to the massive climate shifts in the Earth's history—as much as 10 degrees Celsius warmer—the reasons for today's shift is different (humans) as is the speed. "Humans are now 10,000 times more powerful than natural geologic changes," Hansen said at a conference this past Saturday organized by students of Columbia University's masters program in climate and society to examine whether (and why) 350 ppm might be the right number. "We're now, unfortunately, in charge of future changes."
Mar 3, 2009 | 6
Actor Kiefer Sutherland is fighting imaginary terrorists the green way. Producers of 24, the FOX drama that chronicles Sutherland's Agent Jack Bauer as he races to capture crooks over a nail-biting 24-hour period, are buying carbon offsets to compensate for the global warming emissions they're releasing with every car crash and explosion.
Carbon offsets are credits that carbon dioxide (CO2) emitters (whether individuals, companies or utilities) buy toward clean-energy programs to make up for their own greenhouse-gas emissions. FOX Chairman Rupert Murdoch has said he wants to make his network carbon neutral by next year, and as part of that, producers on 24 have purchased credits toward Indian wind-power plants that they say make up for 1,291 tons of carbon-dioxide, a little more than half a season's worth of emissions, the New York Times reports. FOX also hired consultants to measure how much CO2 the production is emitting, and is using 20 percent biodiesel fuel (made from plant stock or animal fat) in trucks and motion sensors that switch off the lights in unoccupied rooms, according to the newspaper.
Feb 24, 2009 | 5
The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO), NASA’s satellite to track CO2 emissions on Earth, failed to reach orbit after blasting off early this morning, crashing in the waters off of Antarctica and dashing hopes for the $278-million mission.
The payload fairing—a shroud that covered the OCO to protect it during its trip through the atmosphere—failed to separate from the Taurus XL booster rocket carrying the satellite after it took off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 1:55 A.M. Pacific time (4:55 A.M. Eastern time), NASA said.
“The satellite reentered the atmosphere and fell into the ocean just short of Antarctica,” Alan Buis, a spokesperson for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, tells us. “The mission is lost.
Feb 9, 2009 | 3
At least 135 people have died and authorities say that more than 200 may have perished in wildfires that have been raging in southern Australia since Saturday. The fires in Victoria and New South Wales have destroyed more than 750 homes and charred 815,000 acres (330,000 hectares), according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The Associated Press reports that more than a dozen of the 400 blazes ignited over the weekend are still burning; arson is suspected.
"What do you say about anyone like that?" Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on Australian TV, speaking of the suspected arsonists. "There's no words to describe it, other than it's mass murder."
Jan 26, 2009
California and other states that want to set stricter tailpipe emissions and fuel-efficiency standards may get their chance. Pres. Obama today ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review its rejection of the Golden State’s application for a waiver to the Clean Air Act, which allows states to enact their own rules if they can prove that they’re tougher than federal pollution standards.
Obama said during his campaign that he’d reverse the waiver rejection, the Associated Press notes, and the agency is expected to do so. New EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said during her Senate confirmation hearing January 14 that she would “very, very aggressively” review California’s application, which was submitted in 2007 and denied later that year by the Bush administration, which agreed with auto industry arguments that it would be tough to enforce different standards across the country.
Dec 8, 2008
You might recall that the British precursor of NBC's The Office was set in the town of Slough. Well, Slough has another claim to fame, besides, that is, being the Scranton, Pa., of the U.K. (or rather Scranton is the Slough of the U.S. since the British show came first): carbon neutrality.
The city has joined a growing list of communities worldwide, including Rizhao, China and the island nation of Niue, attempting to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations Environment Programme, the U.N. agency charged with minding environmental matters of global import. Of course, as actor Steve Carrell's TV character Michael Scott might observe, that could mean the residents of Slough have to cut back on breathing, too, given that humans and other animals exhale carbon dioxide (CO2), the most ubiquitous greenhouse gas warming the climate.
Nov 20, 2008 | 2
The Bush Administration's push for "midnight regulations" in the last moments of office continues.
In the next 24 hours, the Bush is expected to relax requirements for federal environmental officials to sign off on building projects that pose a threat to species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Publishing the rules by tomorrow means they would take effect before President-elect Barack Obama's Jan. 20 inauguration. Otherwise, Obama could simply decide not to put them into practice.
The rules would allow each federal agency to determine for itself whether its own projects (such as building a highway or dam) present an environmental threat, rather than getting clearance from wildlife biologists who sometimes order modifications, according to the Associated Press, which obtained a copy of the new watered-down regulations.
Nov 19, 2008 | 16
You may recall that President George W. Bush pledged to do something about climate change when campaigning for the presidency back in 2000—but reneged on that promise once in office. But it appears that President-elect Barack Obama will not follow suit, telling a gathering of governors yesterday that "few issues facing America—and the world—are more urgent than combating climate change":
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