Extreme wildfires - the new normal?
September 30, 2013 05:45 AM - NPR Staff - NPR
It has been a deadly year for the people who fight wildfires. In total, 32 people have lost their lives fighting fires in 2013; the highest number in nearly 20 years, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Just one incident accounts for most of those deaths, the Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona. In June, the blaze blasted through a firefighting crew known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots; 19 of the 20 men died. As people move farther into wildland areas and climate change turns landscapes into tinder, experts say the wildfire danger around the country will likely only grow. But there may be a lesson to learn from how the U.S. stifled an earlier fire crisis in urban settings.
New UN climate change report
September 29, 2013 08:01 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been leading the effort in collecting scientific evidence of climate change and in looking to answer the most important question, is it caused by human activity? Some argue that it is caused mostly by natural variability, and non-human factors. The new IPCC report, released this week, provides more evidence that human activity is a major cause. The UN is calling for a global response to combat climate change, following new findings by the IPCC stating it is "extremely likely" that humans have been the dominant cause of unprecedented global warming since 1950. "The heat is on. Now we must act," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a video message to the launch of the report of the UN-backed IPCC. "This new report will be essential for Governments as they work to finalize an ambitious, legal agreement on climate change in 2015," Mr. Ban said. "The goal is to generate the political commitment to keep global temperature rise below the agreed 2-degree Celsius threshold."
Norway Devotes Big Bucks To Crop Diversity
September 27, 2013 04:25 PM - Sophie Wenzlau, Worldwatch Institute
Earlier this week, the government of Norway pledged US$23.7 million to conserve and sustainably manage some of the world's most important food crops, citing the critical need for crop diversity at a time when populations are soaring and climate change is threatening staples like rice and maize, according to the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT). "In just 10 years we will have a billion more people at the global dinner table, but during that same time we could see climate change diminish rice production by 10 percent with a one-degree increase in temperature," said Marie Haga, executive director of the GCDT. "Our best hedge against disaster is to make sure we have a wide array of food crops at our disposal to keep harvests healthy in the bread baskets of the world."
An Account of the Climate as Told by the Trees
September 27, 2013 12:07 PM - Robin Blackstone
Researchers at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam, Germany are reconstructing temperature data from trees in Turkey to better define and understand the climactic conditions. Researchers have confidently chronicled a block of time that reflects the medieval warm period including a little ice age between the 16th and 19th centuries up to the transition into the more modern warm phase in the mountains near Antalya, the coastal Mediterranean coastal region of Turkey. Researchers led by Ingo Heinrich from the GFZ have studied this time series using carbon isotope ratios reflected in the tree rings of the region.
Could payphones be converted to EV charging stations?
September 27, 2013 09:13 AM - MOVEFORWARD, via, Electric Forum
In an intriguing development across New York City there is speculation that the authorities may soon look at converting existing payphones into electric car charging stations. On the surface this may look like yet another crazy idea connected with the electric vehicle industry but if you take a step back, consider the options, it may just be feasible. In yet another sign that the electric vehicle industry is set to go mass-market, people are now actually looking at converting existing payphone units into electric vehicle charging stations. But what are the potential problems and drawbacks? Perhaps the major problem which the EV industry will encounter when converting existing payphones into electric vehicle charging stations is their location. The vast majority are located in situations which are not amenable to parking cars to recharge their batteries although there are some which could be transformed with very little fuss. It will be interesting to see how the authorities tackle this particular problem.
'America’s Power Plan' Envisions New Business Model For Utilities
September 27, 2013 08:29 AM - Tina Casey, Triple Pundit
The Obama Administration has been putting the coal industry’s feet to the fire with new carbon-cutting initiatives, and a new report certainly won’t help coal’s case. Under the title, America’s Power Plan, the authors argue that the U.S. already has the technology in hand to make a rapid transition to renewable energy.
Power Move in Support of Lowering Power Plant Emissions
September 26, 2013 08:50 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Triple Pundit
Power plants are the largest concentrated source of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the U.S., accounting for about one-third of all domestic GHG emissions. Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued new proposals for carbon pollution standards for new power plants. Twenty-two major companies signed a letter in support of the proposed standards. The companies include Unilever, Levi Strauss, Symantec and Patagonia. All of the 22 companies that signed the letters have signed the Ceres Climate Declaration, which calls for a coordinated effort to tackle climate change. In fact, the 22 companies are the largest companies among the over 600 that signed the Declaration.
The Importance of a Sustainable Energy Plan
September 25, 2013 12:48 PM - Erin Craig of TerraPass via, Clean Techies
Creating a Sustainable Energy Plan is a simple, systematic way to examine, refine, and act on one of the most important aspects of a sustainable business. A plan lets you see where you are, decide what immediate positive changes your company can make, and create long-term practical and actionable goals. Why create a plan specifically about energy? Energy use is your most important environmental impact.
Lesser Prairie Chicken numbers decline sharply
September 25, 2013 06:16 AM - Center for Biological Diversity
Lesser prairie chicken population numbers dropped by more than 50 percent over the past year, according to a study released today. The finding raises questions about the adequacy of voluntary conservation measures proposed today for the rare grouse in a final rangewide conservation plan intended to preclude the need for Endangered Species Act protections. "Drought and habitat destruction are devastating the small remaining populations of this magnificent grassland bird," said Jay Lininger with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Voluntary measures are too little, too late, and will not get traction fast enough to prevent extinction. These vanishing birds need the protection that only the Endangered Species Act can provide if they're going to survive."
Shaken in Pakistan
September 24, 2013 11:34 AM - Robin Valinski, ENN
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reports that a 7.7 magnitude earthquake has shaken the southwestern portion of Pakistan. The earthquake struck the area at 16:29 local time Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at a depth of 15 miles under Pakistan's geographically largest but least populated province of Balochistan. The earth shook for about 2 minutes. The city nearest to the epicenter is Karachi, Pakistan with a population of 11.6 million people. The USGS reports that the earthquake is a result of an "olique-strike-slip motion at shallow crustal depths".