Sustainability

Climate modeling update
October 10, 2013 06:30 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Climate models keep getting better but still can't predict with great certainty. So scientists run multiple models and look at the results of each model and calculate a consensus projection. The intent is to reduce the level of uncertainty by using a range of models with different types of shortcomings to hopefully improve confidence in the results. The seesaw variability of global temperatures often engenders debate over how seriously we should take climate change. But within 35 years, even the lowest monthly dips in temperatures will be hotter than we've experienced in the past 150 years, according to a new and massive analysis of all climate models. The tropics will be the first to exceed the limits of historical extremes and experience an unabated heat wave that threatens biodiversity and heavily populated countries with the fewest resources to adapt. Ecological and societal disruptions by modern climate change are critically determined by the time frame over which climates shift. Camilo Mora and colleagues in the College of Social Sciences' Department of Geography at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa have developed one such time frame. The study, titled "The projected timing of climate departure from recent variability," will be published in the October 10, 2013 issue of Nature and provides an index of the year when the mean climate of any given location on Earth will shift continuously outside the most extreme records experienced in the past 150 years.

Government Shutdown leaves Antarctic Research Operations in the cold
October 9, 2013 04:26 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced the suspension of all operations "not essential to the human safety and preservation of the property". This means that field and research activities will be wrapped up as the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) shifts into caretaker status. Funds for the program will dry up on or about October 14, 2013 as a result of the absence of appropriation and the Antideficiency Act just as the 2013-2014 summer austral program would have begun. Because much of the USAP work is dependent upon seasonal windows of opportunity, it will not be possible to restart many science activities for the remainder of the season. Researchers typically study birds, climate, weather and more in the remote and harsh climate.

Green Aerosol Cans? GreenSpence Says It Doesn’t Have To Be A Contradiction
October 9, 2013 01:11 PM - ISRAEL21c, NoCamels

They squirt, spray and lather. Some even give lifesaving bursts of medicine. But truth be told, the aerosol spray container hasn’t changed much in the last 60 years, says Gadi Har-Shai, CEO of the Israeli startup GreenSpense. Traditional aerosols are polluting and dangerous. So he invented a new alternative, the eco-sleeve, using nanotechnology.

Nitrogen Fixation
October 9, 2013 12:51 PM - Mrinalini Erkenswick Watsa , MONGABAY.COM

Nitrogen is colorless, odorless and tasteless, but all life on earth depends on it. Without it, our bodies cannot synthesize the nucleic acids that make up our DNA, or the protein-forming amino acids that are the very building blocks of our cells. Problematically, atmospheric nitrogen is relatively inert or nonreactive. This has created a unique biological dependency on a process called nitrogen fixation—where inert nitrogen from the atmosphere is converted into more reactive ammonia, a major component of soil fertilizers. A recent discovery has revealed just how reliant recovering forests are on nitrogen fixation, and how some forests can even manipulate it to speed up their abilities to 'heal' themselves. Many tropical forests today have been exploited for agriculture, mining, fossil fuel exploitation, and other human use.

Abengoa’s Gigantic "Salt Battery" Stores Utility-Scale Solar Energy
October 9, 2013 08:00 AM - Tina Casey, Triple Pundit

The global solar company Abengoa Solar has just announced that its massive Solana solar power plant has begun commercial operation in Arizona. The plant represents a transformational breakthrough in utility scale solar power, because it includes an energy storage system based on molten salt.

Solar for Sure
October 8, 2013 03:52 PM - The Vote Solar Initiative, Clean Techies

Yesterday, Governor Brown signed into law AB 327, a comprehensive rate reform bill to create more certainty for Californians who want to go solar, ensuring rooftop solar is here to stay in California! The Governor issued a signing statement for AB 327 directing the CPUC to ensure that customers who go solar under the current 5% program cap will get to stay under current program rules for the life of their solar array. That's important direction for the agency as it implements the bill in 2014.

It’s not easy being green — unless that is, you live on a boat. Part IV.
October 8, 2013 07:45 AM - Clare Kendall, The Ecologist

In her fourth and final blog Clare Kendall recommends trying a boat holiday - which tend to have serious green credentials........ If you've been inspired by the thought of canal boat living (see my previous blogs) why not try a narrow boat holiday. It's one of the greenest holiday options you can take.

Good news for European wildlife
October 8, 2013 06:16 AM - Luke Dale-Harris, The Ecologist

From Eastern Europe, Luke Dale-Harris argues that the extent to which the findings of a recently published report can be considered positive depend on one's perspective of rewilding......... A couple of weeks ago the unusual happened. Europe received positive news about the environment. Not just a claim that maybe things aren’t quite as bad as we previously thought, but the release of a report which shows, quite clearly, that for many species across large swathes of Europe, things haven't been better for decades.

New Fish Trap Reduces Bycatch and Increases Profits
October 7, 2013 03:46 PM - Wildlife Conservation Society

Scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Kenyan Marine and Fisheries Research Institute have achieved a milestone in Africa: they've helped build a better fish trap, one that keeps valuable fish in while letting undersized juvenile fish and non-target species out. By modifying conventional African basket traps with escape gaps, the marine researchers have proven that the new traps catch larger fish, allow more undersized and non-target fish to escape, increase profits, and—most importantly—minimize the impact of fishing on coastal reef systems. The findings, say researchers, will help fishing communities boost profits while protecting their vital marine resources.

Australian Environmental Politics in Denial
October 7, 2013 01:18 PM - Daniel Yeow, Worldwatch Institute

Australia seems to be going backwards in time with regard to environmental politics. A startlingly high number of people there deny climate change. Most Australians do believe in it, but in a country that no longer has a science minister, the newly-elected conservative government is populated by "leaders" who believe that it is some kind of conspiracy. The media that the average Australian consumes is overwhelmingly populated by sources which are owned by people of a highly conservative and libertarian belief. Libertarianism—the belief that people should be free to do as they wish so long as they do not impinge on the freedom of others, is a decidedly human-centric philosophy and as such, large-scale environmental problems are generally not well-handled. In the minds of people like Rupert Murdoch, among others, environmental regulations are an unnecessary burden on people's freedom, and even if you don't really believe that, if that's what you read in the newspaper every day, then that's what you will be led to believe.

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