By Geoffrey Mohan
February 13, 2014, 5:21 p.m.
Federal regulators are missing about 14 million metric tons of greenhouse gas in their annual inventory, most of which likely comes from the nation’s growing natural gas industry, according to a new study.
But despite the higher estimate of methane leakage, switching from coal to the cleaner-burning fuel makes long-term sense for reducing greenhouse gases linked to climate change, according to an analysis of data in 200 studies, published online Thursday in the journal Science.
“While we believe the leakage rates are likely higher than official estimates, they’re unlikely to be high enough to disfavor shifting from coal to natural gas,” said the study’s lead author, Adam R. Brandt, an energy resource engineer at Stanford University.
Not all policies involving natural gas are equally beneficial, the study warned. Although burning natural gas instead of gasoline in motor vehicles might benefit the planet over the next 100 years, switching from diesel buses, an increasingly common policy in many cities, could wind up creating more planet-warming gas, according to the study.
Our “friend” Mark Steyn already showed off his wingnut credential when he wrote his ridiculous America Alone. Its full of thoroughly debunked xenophobic and Islamophobic claims. Now to no one’s surprise, he reveals himself to be a climate change denier, as well as a bigot.
Steyn wrote a long commentary in the Spectator, with the title,
Global warming’s glorious ship of fools
Eventually after a long rant, where he ridicules and insults everyone who is smart enough to disagree with him, ( especially Al Gore ) he concludes,
Big Climate is slowly being crushed by a hard, icy reality: if you’re heading off to university this year, there has been no global warming since before you were in kindergarten. That’s to say, the story of the early 21st century is that the climate declined to follow the climate ‘models’. (Full disclosure: I’m currently being sued by Dr Michael Mann, creator of the most famously alarming graph, the ‘hockey stick’.) You would think that might occasion a little circumspection. But instead the cultists up the ante: having evolved from ‘global warming’ to the more flexible ‘climate change’, they’re now moving on to ‘climate collapse’. Total collapse. No climate at all. No sun, no ice. No warm fronts, except for the heaving bosoms in Rajendra Pachauri’s bodice-rippers. Nothing except the graphs and charts of ‘settled science’. In the Antarctic wastes of your mind, it’s easier just to ice yourself in.
I wonder how Steyn would explain this. Seriously, almost nothing was written in any peer reviewed journal critical of man made climate change last year. Almost all scientists in the relevant fields accept that pumping tons of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, will make things hotter. How do you get such a huge consensus in modern science without overwhelming evidence to back it up?
Steyn shows us once again that he is either a liar, or ignorant and not a very good critical thinker. Either way, he’s not someone you should use as a source, unless you want someone to debunk, or make fun of.
This is an instance where I can’t help but wish Steyn was right about something. I don’t like how we are harming the planet, and putting the well being of ourselves and future generations at risk. However, we will have to accept it, if we are going to be able to do something about it. At this point, we need to be very skeptical of people who think that our actions are not affecting the climate, especially people like Steyn.
This is especially important, given how we’re pumping so many greenhouse gases into the environment.
by Scott K. Johnson - Jan 11 2014, 8:10am PSTThe Putorana Plateau, capped basalt released in the Siberian Traps eruptions. Wikimedia Commons
Climate models usually end up in the news because of projections of future climate, but many researchers use the models to study other planets or the Earth’s past. They can help test hypotheses about past climate events by comparing model simulations to estimates of past climates obtained from things like ice and sediment cores.
One climatic event that looms large in Earth’s history is the end-Permian mass extinction about 252 million years ago—the worst mass extinction event on record. A volcanic event seems to have been at least partly to blame. Tremendously vast eruptions in Siberia coughed up lava flows and ash that may have covered an area nearly as large as Australia—a feature known as the Siberian Traps. During this event, some 90 percent of marine species disappeared, and species on land didn’t fare well, either.
Temperature rises resulting from unchecked climate change will be at the severe end of those projected, according to a new scientific study.
The scientist leading the research said that unless emissions of greenhouse gases were cut, the planet would heat up by a minimum of 4C by 2100, twice the level the world’s governments deem dangerous.
The research indicates that fewer clouds form as the planet warms, meaning less sunlight is reflected back into space, driving temperatures up further still. The way clouds affect global warming has been the biggest mystery surrounding future climate change.
Professor Steven Sherwood, at the University of New South Wales, in Australia, who led the new work, said: “This study breaks new ground twice: first by identifying what is controlling the cloud changes and second by strongly discounting the lowest estimates of future global warming in favour of the higher and more damaging estimates.”
Here’s one way we could fight pollution and climate change, that you may not have thought of.
In a little corner of the Great Plains, corn growers are using proven methods to cut their carbon footprint.
The tri-state corner of Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa is marked by rolling hills dotted with trees, a transition between the dry prairies and woodlands. Recently, it has become a laboratory for more sustainable corn, and one research team has found that the processes used can cut carbon emissions by more than half from the national average.
Plenty of studies have shown that the Arctic is warming and that the ice caps are melting, but how does it compare to the past, and how serious is it?
New research shows that average summer temperatures in the Canadian Arctic over the last century are the highest in the last 44,000 years, and perhaps the highest in 120,000 years.
“The key piece here is just how unprecedented the warming of Arctic Canada is,” Gifford Miller, a researcher at the University of Colorado, Boulder, said in a joint statement from the school and the publisher of the journal Geophysical Researcher Letters, in which the study by Miller and his colleagues was published online this week. “This study really says the warming we are seeing is outside any kind of known natural variability, and it has to be due to increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”
Intentionally engineering Earth’s atmosphere to offset rising temperatures could be far more doable than you imagine, says David Keith. But is it a good idea?
Here is the plan. Customize several Gulfstream business jets with military engines and with equipment to produce and disperse fine droplets of sulfuric acid. Fly the jets up around 20 kilometers—significantly higher than the cruising altitude for a commercial jetliner but still well within their range. At that altitude in the tropics, the aircraft are in the lower stratosphere. The planes spray the sulfuric acid, carefully controlling the rate of its release. The sulfur combines with water vapor to form sulfate aerosols, fine particles less than a micrometer in diameter. These get swept upward by natural wind patterns and are dispersed over the globe, including the poles. Once spread across the stratosphere, the aerosols will reflect about 1 percent of the sunlight hitting Earth back into space. Increasing what scientists call the planet’s albedo, or reflective power, will partially offset the warming effects caused by rising levels of greenhouse gases.
The author of this so-called geoengineering scheme, David Keith, doesn’t want to implement it anytime soon, if ever. Much more research is needed to determine whether injecting sulfur into the stratosphere would have dangerous consequences such as disrupting precipitation patterns or further eating away the ozone layer that protects us from damaging ultraviolet radiation. Even thornier, in some ways, are the ethical and governance issues that surround geoengineering—questions about who should be allowed to do what and when. Still, Keith, a professor of applied physics at Harvard University and a leading expert on energy technology, has done enough analysis to suspect it could be a cheap and easy way to head off some of the worst effects of climate change.
Snow that serves as the lifeblood of the nation’s $12.2 billion winter sports industry is melting under the influence of a warming climate, and dramatic steps are needed to protect the industry and the jobs it provides, a new study prepared for conservation groups concludes.
Alpine and Nordic skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing — even ice fishing — could all be in trouble unless winter sports industry leaders take a leadership role in curbing emissions of greenhouse gases responsible for global warming, members of the National Resources Defense Council and Protect Our Winters insist.
“This industry as a whole needs to take its head out of the snow before it melts away,” said Antonia Herzog, assistant director of the defense council’s Climate and Clean Air Program.
“They need to start taking action,” Herzog said, adding that the industry should play an active role in pushing for new regulations curbing emissions from existing power plants in particular.
Of all the delegations in the room in Doha, the Canadians adopt the lowest profile. Some question whether they should be there at all: The country’s first and only Green party MP, Elizabeth May, said: “Having Canada in the room negotiating to weaken the second Kyoto, when we have already signalled that not only will we not be participating in taking on new targets in the second period but we’re legally withdrawn from the protocol, should make us pariahs.”
“I can’t imagine how anybody would want us in the room.”
Canada’s current greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are 23% over the country’s Kyoto protocol target, and federal government estimates place Canada 28.8% over the target by 2014. Canada is the only country to have repudiated Kyoto, the sole legally binding international policy tool to date to deal with the emissions, and ranks just behind the US and Australia in the table of worst global emitters per capita.
This is because of Canada’s size, its cold climate and its resource-based economy, especially the energy-intensive, carbon-emissions-heavy oil boiled from large swaths of bitumen know as the Alberta tar sands.
Canada holds the world’s third-largest oil reserves, mostly concentrated in the western province of Alberta, the region that is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Where most provinces’ GHG emissions have stabilised since 1990, Alberta’s emissions have increased by 41%.
Technology is always looking for ways to make it easier to be green. Now, researchers in New York state report creating a new long-lived catalyst that uses the energy in sunlight to generate hydrogen gas, a carbon-free fuel. With further improvements, the advance could lead to systems that use sunlight to split water molecules, generating a fuel that can power cars and trucks without emitting any greenhouse gases.
The idea of using sunlight to convert water into a fuel may sound fanciful. But plants do it: They capture photons of sunlight and use that energy to split water molecules into their constituents of hydrogen and oxygen ions. Pairs of hydrogen ions are then knitted together with a pair of electrons (swiped from the oxygen ions) to make hydrogen molecules (H2).
Researchers have actually mimicked this same reaction for many years, but the catalysts they use to do so have been either too expensive or too quick to break down. So the search has been on for cheaper, more rugged catalysts.
To do the job, researchers usually look for two key ingredients: a good light absorber and a good catalyst. The light absorber captures photons of sunlight and then harnesses the energy to generate the energetic electrons. Those energized electrons are then passed to the catalyst, which knits the hydrogen ions into H2.