Climate

Wind, Solar...Coconuts: Small Island Developing States Commit to Renewable, Sustainable Energy for All
May 15, 2012 03:20 PM - Andrew Burger, Global Warming is Real

Typically heavily reliant on the cost of high and volatile diesel and fossil fuel imports, small island developing states are also on the front line when it comes to having to cope with climate change. Now they're realizing there's a lot in the way of cleaner, more efficient and less costly power and fuel resources right at home. They're increasingly, if belatedly, establishing ambitious renewable energy programs and setting aggressive targets to employ local renewable energy resources to reduce CO2 and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, working with a range of international development agencies, public and private sector partners domestic and foreign, in doing so.

Expect the Unexpected to happen with Climate Change
May 15, 2012 06:37 AM - Guest Post, Global Warming is Real

An increasingly common fallback position once climate change "skeptics" accept that the planet is warming and humans are the dominant cause is the myth that climate change won't be bad. In fact, this particular myth comes in at #3 on our list of most used climate myths. It's an ideal fallback position because it allows those who reject the body of scientific evidence to believe that if they are wrong on the science, it's okay, because the consequences won't be dire anyway. One of my colleagues, Molly Henderson recently completed a Masters Degree program class on scientific research which focused on climate change, which she aced (way to go, Molly!). For her final research paper, she examined the consequences of climate change on the prevalence of water-borne diseases in the US Great Lakes region.

Cardamon cultivation impacting tropical forests
May 14, 2012 07:40 AM - Smriti Daniel, SciDevNet

Cultivation of cardamom, a high value spice crop, can take a toll on evergreen forests in tropical countries, independent studies in Sri Lanka and India have shown. Apart from disturbing biodiversity, cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), plantations affect water and soil quality in tropical forests, the studies said. Researchers from Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom studying abandoned cardamom plantations in the Knuckles Forest Reserve (KFR) in the uplands of central Sri Lanka found adverse effects lingering decades after cultivation was banned.

Algae fuel potential greater than thought
May 10, 2012 06:35 AM - Charlotte Dormer, Planet Earth

For algae to power our cars and planes, production needs to be low carbon and cost effective, which means working with natural processes, not against them, say scientists. Algae could become an important source of sustainable biofuel, as production doesn't compete with food crops for land. But we may need to change the way we grow algae from closed systems to open ponds if it is to be low-carbon and cost-effective. This is because current algae production in closed systems – usually for cosmetic ingredients – uses too much energy keeping the ecosystem isolated from the surrounding environment.

Microsoft Moving Towards Carbon Neutrality
May 9, 2012 08:50 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit

Microsoft has committed to become carbon neutral beginning on July 1, the start of the company's new fiscal year. The shift results from three years of internal discussions within the company to improve Microsoft's carbon footprint and environmental performance. The company will roll out the new changes, including a new accounting system, across its operations in over 100 countries. The new accounting system at Microsoft will be based on an internal carbon fee that the company's finance department will charge to all of the company's business groups. Each division will be tasked with finding a more efficient way to offset the carbon emissions associated with their fuel consumption and air travel.

The Tale of an Antarctica Octopus
May 9, 2012 07:49 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Dr Strugnell is the lead author of a new international study that reveals how the genes of a fairly sedentary Antarctic octopus provide a clue to the risk of sea-level rise if world temperatures keep climbing. Published in the journal Molecular Ecology and reported on Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council Planet Earth website, the study found that the genetic make up of Turquet’s octopus was startlingly similar in both the Weddell and Ross Seas. The only problem is that the two seas are on opposite sides of Antarctica and have no direct sea link. So what happened?

Major Natural Gas Project approved for Uinta Basin, Utah
May 9, 2012 07:10 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar approved this week a major natural gas project in Utah’s Uinta Basin that could develop more than 3,600 new wells over the next decade. The project will support up to 4,300 jobs during development. By signing the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Greater Natural Buttes Project, proposed by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Secretary Salazar approved up to 3,675 new gas wells in an existing gas producing area in Uintah County, Utah. The decision follows a landmark comprehensive public consultation and conservation stakeholder involvement effort that resulted in a balanced approach to energy production and environmental protection that will boost America's energy economy. The project encompasses approximately 163,000 acres – but will bring new surface disturbance to just five percent of that area (approximately 8,100 acres) as a result of the 1,484 well pads approved in the ROD, which would be drilled over a period of 10 years.

Greenland's Ice Melting Overestimated
May 4, 2012 07:32 AM - Richard Harris, NPR

A new study has some reassuring news about how fast Greenland's glaciers are melting away. Greenland's glaciers hold enough water to raise sea level by 20 feet, and they are melting as the planet warms, so there's a lot at stake. A few years ago, the Jakobshavn glacier in Greenland really caught people's attention. In short order, this slow-moving stream of ice suddenly doubled its speed. It started dumping a whole lot more ice into the Atlantic. Other glaciers also sped up. "Some people feared if they could double their speed over two or three years, they could keep doubling and doubling and doubling and reach very fast speeds," says Ian Joughin of the University of Washington's Polar Ice Center.

GMO Labeling to Go Before Voters in California
May 3, 2012 01:34 PM - Georgina Gustin, Strait to the Source, Organic Consumers Association

It doesn't take an agricultural expert to know that you can't grow vegetables without water. So it wasn't surprising that after hundreds of people marching under the banner "Occupy the Farm" took over a University of California (UC) agricultural testing station on April 22, UC officials responded by shutting off water to the site. The next day, a late-season storm brought a half-inch of rain to the San Francisco Bay Area, irrigating the thousands of vegetable starts in the ground and lifting the spirits of the urban farming activists who are determined to save the site from development. Score: Occupiers, 1 - UC administrators, 0. Social change activists in Berkeley, Calif., have always been ahead of the curve. Today, May Day, is the spring reemergence for the Occupy movement as activists around the United States engage in work stoppages, street marches, and various forms of civil disobedience to press their demands for a more equitable economy. The folks with Occupy the Farm got started early. On Earth Day, they marched from Berkeley's Ohlone Park to a five-acre plot of land in the adjacent bedroom community of Albany. They cut the locks on the gates of the UC-Berkeley and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) field trial plot, pulled up nearly an acre of thick mustard growing there, and got busy working the soil with a pair of rented rototillers. Then, scores of volunteers planted 150-foot rows of lettuce, beans, cucumbers, and leafy greens. By the end of Earth Day, the Bay Area had a new urban farm.

Tropical countries struggle to engage with REDD+
May 3, 2012 12:06 PM - Clara Rondonuwu, SciDevNet

Most tropical developing countries are struggling to monitor and report their greenhouse gas emissions from forest loss, and will need international support to implement the UN REDD+ scheme, according to a study. The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) scheme aims to reverse forest cover loss and curb related carbon emissions by putting a financial value on stored carbon.

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