Sneaker Life Cycle Impact
May 22, 2013 04:10 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
The American term sneakers refers to footwear with a flexible sole made of rubber or synthetic material and an upper part made of leather or canvas. Sneakers were originally sporting apparel, but today are worn much more widely as casual footwear. A typical pair of running shoes generates 30 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to keeping a 100-watt light bulb on for one week, according to a new MIT-led life cycle assessment. A life cycle measures the environmental impact of the raw materials, processing, and transport to the final market as well as waste disposal. But what’s surprising to researchers isn’t the size of a shoe’s carbon footprint, but where the majority of that footprint comes from.
May 22, 2013 09:39 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
A wildfire is an uncontrolled fire in an area of combustible vegetation that occurs in the countryside or a wilderness area. Wildfires occur on every continent except Antarctica. Wildfires are a common occurrence in Australia and the far US west. Concerns continue to grow about the effects of climate change on fire. Wildfires are expected to increase 50 percent across the United States under a changing climate, over 100 percent in areas of the West by 2050 as projected by some studies. A new article published in the journal Forest Ecology and Management by U.S. Forest Service scientists synthesizes recent findings on the interactions between fire and climate and outlines future research needs. Authored by research meteorologists Yongqiang Liu and Scott Goodrick from the Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) and Warren Heilman from the Northern Research Station, the article homes in on the effect of emissions from wildfires on long-term atmospheric conditions.
Texas Legislature Passes Commercial and Industrial PACE Bill
May 21, 2013 01:29 PM - Editor, Clean Techies
The Texas House and Senate passed Senate Bill 385 in May. If Governor Rick Perry approves the bill, the state will break new ground by developing plans for commercial and industrial property assessed clean energy (PACE) programs. This bill will redesign Texas's approach to PACE, focusing on the commercial and industrial sectors rather than on residential programs. The legislation covers both energy efficiency and water efficiency. To facilitate local decision making, cities and local areas will partner with businesses and nonprofits to set up their own PACE programs. These programs will allow businesses to borrow money from private lenders and repay it yearly via an assessment on their property taxes.
Methane Across the Country
May 17, 2013 08:01 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Methane is created naturally near the Earth's surface, primarily by microorganisms by the process of methanogenesis. It is carried into the stratosphere by rising air in the tropics. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, stronger than carbon dioxide on a 20-year timescale, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, though on a century timescale, carbon dioxide is far stronger. "This research suggests significant benefits to slowing climate change could result from reducing industrial methane emissions in parallel with efforts on carbon dioxide," said Ira Leifer, a researcher with UC Santa Barbara's Marine Science Institute. Doing a a cross-continent drive, a UC Santa Barbara scientist has found that methane emissions across large parts of the U.S. are higher than is currently known, confirming what other more local studies have found. Their research is published in the journal Atmospheric Environment.
Tundra Carbon Impact?
May 16, 2013 03:59 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
There is a concern with the carbon stored in the form of frozen partially decomposed vegetation in the vast tundra of the north. When the permafrost melts, it may releases carbon in the form of carbon dioxide and methane, both of which are greenhouse gases. The amount of greenhouse gases which will be released from the Arctic’s stockpile of carbon may be more secure than scientists thought. In a 20-year experiment that warmed patches of chilly ground, tundra soil kept its stored carbon, researchers report. Almost half of the world’s soil carbon is stored at high latitude, in the form of dead and decaying organisms.
EarthTalk: Climate Change and Hawaii’s Coral Reefs
May 16, 2013 09:04 AM - EarthTalk, Global Warming is Real
Despite sweeping protections put in place near the end of George W. Bush's presidency for large swaths of marine ecosystems around the Hawaiian Islands, things are not looking good for Hawaii’s coral reefs. Poisonous run-off, rising ocean levels, increasingly acidic waters and overfishing are taking their toll on the reefs and the marine life they support. Biologists are trying to remain optimistic that there is still time to turn things around, but new threats to Hawaii's corals are only aggravating the situation...
Study Shows Scientists Agree on Anthropogenic Climate Change
May 16, 2013 06:02 AM - ScienceDaily
A comprehensive analysis of peer-reviewed articles on the topic of global warming and climate change has revealed an overwhelming consensus among scientists that recent warming is human-caused. The study is the most comprehensive yet and identified 4000 summaries, otherwise known as abstracts, from papers published in the past 21 years that stated a position on the cause of recent global warming -- 97 per cent of these endorsed the consensus that we are seeing human-made, or anthropogenic, global warming (AGW) Led by John Cook at the University of Queensland, the study has been published 16 May, in IOP Publishing's journal Environmental Research Letters.
Mussels May Help Filter Polluted Waters
May 14, 2013 10:28 AM - Editor, ENN via YaleEnvironment360
Scientists from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) set up an experimental raft at the mouth of New York City's Bronx River last spring. Hanging beneath it were long, sock-like tendrils that had been seeded with Geukensia demissa, commonly known as ribbed mussels. The point of the two-year experiment was to see whether mussels would survive or even thrive given the industrial and organic effluent that flows from the Bronx into the greater New York Harbor. If the mussels did in fact prosper in this environment, it could have implications for how we might help clean up coastal waters in various parts of the world.
CO2 Levels Top 400 ppm at Hawaii Monitoring Station
May 11, 2013 07:38 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
CO2 levels have been increasing relatively steadily for more than 50 years. On May 9, the daily mean concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Mauna Loa, Hawaii, surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time since measurements began in 1958. Independent measurements made by both NOAA and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have been approaching this level during the past week. It marks an important milestone because Mauna Loa, as the oldest continuous carbon dioxide (CO2) measurement station in the world, is the primary global benchmark site for monitoring the increase of this potent heat-trapping gas. Carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere by fossil fuel burning and other human activities is the most significant greenhouse gas (GHG) contributing to climate change. Its concentration has increased every year since scientists started making measurements on the slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano. The rate of increase has accelerated since the measurements started, from about 0.7 ppm per year in the late 1950s to 2.1 ppm per year during the last 10 years.
Anthropogenic Origins of Cirrus Clouds
May 10, 2013 03:57 PM - Allison Winter, ENN
"Cirrus" is Latin for a curling lock of hair so it is fitting that thin, wispy clouds that we often see in the atmosphere are called cirrus clouds. These clouds form when water vapor undergoes deposition at high altitudes and therefore are found at higher elevations and appear more delicate compared to the other types of clouds. Cirrus clouds cover as much as one-third of the Earth and play an important role in global climate. Depending on altitude and the number and size of ice crystals, cirrus clouds can cool the planet by reflecting incoming solar radiation — or warm it by trapping outgoing heat.