Are Sierra Nevada forest fires getting more severe?
October 2, 2013 06:12 AM - Center for Biological Diversity
A new scientific study finds that fire severity is not increasing in the forests of California's Sierra Nevada. The findings are contrary to claims by those who have tried to use recent fires in the region to justify more logging in the state's forests. The study, by Dr. Chad Hanson of the John Muir Project, and Dr. Dennis Odion of the Earth Research Institute at University of California, Santa Barbara, was published in the International Journal of Wildland Fire. It found no trend of increasing fire severity in the Sierra Nevada management region in California over the past three decades. In fact, the study found that between 1984 and 2010, the amount of high-severity fire in the Sierra was lower than its natural level, before modern fire suppression.
Investment Biking in Portland
October 1, 2013 09:25 AM - Andrew Burger, Triple Pundit
Bicycling's numerous and varied benefits — economic, social and environmental — have long been recognized, though given short shrift in the way of institutional value or support. That's changing. Public and private sector decision makers in cities and communities across the U.S. and around the world — spurred by persistent advocacy at the grassroots level and biking's near universal popularity — are factoring bicycling into integrated urban, suburban, and even rural transportation, development and sustainability plans.
Plastic constituent discovered on Saturn's moon Titan
October 1, 2013 06:25 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Seems like we are addicted to plastic on earth. We use it everywhere, and it has wonderful properties that make it ideal for may products. It is also a concern when used in food packaging and preparation and an issue in landfilles since some forms don't bio-degrade easily. I thought plastic was an invention of chemists and petrochemical companies. So it is a surprise that propylene, a key component of plastics, has been discovered on a moon of Saturn! This is the first definitive detection of the plastic ingredient on any moon or planet, other than Earth. A small amount of propylene was identified in Titan's lower atmosphere by Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer (CIRS). This instrument measures the infrared light, or heat radiation, emitted from Saturn and its moons in much the same way our hands feel the warmth of a fire.
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.