Climate

UN: Meat Consumption Must be Cut to Reduce Greenhouse Gases
April 16, 2012 09:53 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

In the developed world, citizens take advantage of the enormous bounty of meat while shopping at markets and dining in restaurants. For some, a meal can only be classified as real if it contains some kind of meat in it. According to the UN, the attitude towards meat consumption has to change, and people must cut back. This is a necessary step in reducing one of the most potent greenhouse gases, nitrous oxide (N2O). A recent study by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that the developed world needs to cut its meat consumption by 50 percent per person by the year 2050.

Tar Sands Update
April 16, 2012 06:52 AM - RP Siegel , Triple Pundit

You might not know this, but Canada has oil reserves of 170 billion barrels, more than Iran and Nigeria combined. This fact is not widely known since much of that oil has been considered "not economically recoverable," lying deep underground in a mixture of bitumen, a thick, tarry substance, sand and water known as oil sands or tar sands. Development of these tar sands, located near the Athabasca River, by Suncor Energy, began in the 1960s but has been conducted at a relatively small scale because of the costs involved. Only recently, with declining supplies and increasing prices have attempts begun to try and ramp up production, especially after PetroChina acquired a 60 percent interest in two major wells in Alberta in 2009. This was followed in 2010 by Sinopec paying $4.65 billion for a 9 percent stake in Syncrude Canada Ltd. Chinese investors find this resource to be attractive, since Canada is considered to be a low political risk when compared with, say, the Middle East. As of 2010, the three biggest of many players were Syncrude Canada, Suncor, and Albian Sands, a joint venture of Chevron, Shell Canada and Marathon Oil. BP also has a substantial stake, with a 75 percent interest in Terre de Grace, which it also operates.

Fungal disease threat seen increasing
April 15, 2012 08:39 AM - Tom Marshall, Planet Earth On Line

Fungal diseases are a major threat not just to wild plants and animals, but to us. A new Nature paper shows we're already heading for huge fungal damage to vital crops and ecosystems over the coming decades. If we don't do more to stop these diseases' spread, their impact could be devastating. Fungi already destroy at least 125 million tonnes a year of rice, wheat, maize and potatoes and soybeans, worth $60 billion. Researchers estimate that in 2009-10, this lost food could have fed some 8.5 per cent of the world's people. And this is just the result of persistent low-level infection; simultaneous epidemics in several major crops could mean billions starve.

Forests and the Health of the Planet
April 13, 2012 08:24 AM - Richard Matthews, Global Warming is Real

The health of our forests directly impacts the health of the planet. The importance of forests to the Earth’s ecosystems cannot be overstated. Research shows that forest die-offs are on the increase and this troubling trend is being linked to global warming. Heat and water stress associated with climate change are making forests vulnerable to insect attacks, fires and other problems. As reported in an October 2011 New York Times article, millions of acres of forests in the northern and central Rockies are dying. In Colorado, at least 15 percent of that state’s aspen forests are suffering due to a lack of water. The U.S. is not the only country where forests are succumbing to the effects of a warming climate, trees are also being impacted by climate change all around the globe. The evidence for global warming continues to mount with March 2012 being the warmest in recorded history in the U.S. and January to March 2012 being the warmest first quarter on record in the lower 48 states. This is but the most recent data corroborating an increasingly irrefutable body of evidence.

Sunny Forecast for Solar Power
April 13, 2012 07:16 AM - Editor, Sierra Club Green Home

The American solar industry more than doubled in megawatts last year, from 887 megawatts installed in 2010 to 1,855 megawatts installed in 2011. This growth represents enough solar energy to power over 350,000 homes! 2011 also marks the first time the U.S. solar market has topped one gigawatt (1,000 MW) in a single year. Many factors contributed to this growth. The cost of installing solar panels fell 20 percent last year due to lower component costs and improved installation efficiency. Expanded financing options and a shift toward larger systems nationwide also made solar more affordable. In addition the 1603 Treasury Program, which offered rebates for businesses that installed solar panels, ended Dec. 31, 2011. This looming deadline drove developers to commission projects before the end of the year.

Climate Change Effects on Long-Term Plant Growth in Arizona
April 12, 2012 09:58 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Climate change around the world is not predicted to be uniform. Most places will get warmer, some will get more rain and others will get less. For areas of Arizona, warmer temperatures are expected to provide a boost in plant growth caused by a longer growing season and more carbon dioxide in the air. However, a new study from Northern Arizona University suggests the contrary. Warming temperatures will cause an initial boost in plant growth, but will quickly diminish over the years. This may lead to significant deterioration in future plant growth.

Balmy Weather Brought out the Bugs, but Was the Frost That Followed a Factor?
April 11, 2012 08:48 AM - Editor, Science Daily

While many enjoyed a mild winter and an early spring with record-breaking temperatures, the warm weather also prompted many bugs to show up earlier than usual. The question is, will bug populations be larger this summer?

The Oceans Perpetual Motion
April 10, 2012 03:45 PM - Editor, ENN

The ocean is not a placid body of water. It is a swirling convoluted mess of current flows due to temperature differentials and winds. The swirling flows of Earth's perpetually changing ocean come to life in a new NASA scientific visualization that captures the movement of tens of thousands of ocean currents. The high-definition visualization is available in 3-minute and 20-minute versions at: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?3827 .

Droughts are Killers: Which Plants Will Survive?
April 10, 2012 03:11 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

No water equals dead plant. Yet some are harder to kill than others. New research by UCLA life scientists could lead to predictions of which plant species will escape extinction from climate change. Droughts are worsening around the world, posing a great challenge to plants in all ecosystems, said Lawren Sack, a UCLA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and senior author of the research. Scientists have debated for more than a century how to predict which species are most vulnerable and, of course, what to do about it.

It's Official: March was Warmest Ever in United States
April 10, 2012 09:16 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has maintained records of weather and climate since 1895. According to these records, the month of March, 2012 has set a new record as the warmest March ever for the contiguous United States. Across the nation, 15,000 local warm temperature records were broken. The average temperature was 51.1 degrees F, which is 8.6 degrees higher than the average 20th century March temperature. It is 0.5 degrees higher than the previous warmest March in 1910. The record high March also pushed the average temperature for the first quarter (January-March) to a new record high.

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