West Antarctica warming during end of last ice age examined
August 16, 2013 06:22 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
The Earth goes through natural cooling and warming trends, not to be confused with man's impact on climate. Ice Ages have occurred and waned. The pace of warming at the end of an ice age has been the subject of debate. It turns out that in Antarctica the pace of warming at the end of the last ice age was far from uniform. West Antarctica began emerging from the last ice age about 22,000 years ago — well before other regions of Antarctica and the rest of the world, according to a team of scientists who analyzed a two-mile-long ice core, one of the deepest ever drilled in Antarctica. Scientists say that changes in the amount of solar energy triggered the warming of West Antarctica and the subsequent release of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the Southern Ocean amplified the effect and resulted in warming on a global scale, eventually ending the ice age.
Reducing soot and methane emissions may not make as big of an impact as previously thought
August 15, 2013 03:02 PM - Editor, ENN
Carbon dioxide is a heavy hitter when it comes to global climate change. But there are some other big players that contribute to rising temperatures as well including soot and methane. While some scientists have argued to cut these emissions, a new study suggests that targeting these emissions may make much less of an impact than previously thought. Methane, when assessed over the course of a century, warms the planet about 25 times as much as the same mass of carbon dioxide does. During the same time frame, soot boosts warming more than 1000 times as much as the same mass of CO2 does. With this evidence, it appears that these two pollutants contribute just as much as CO2. However, methane and soot don’t stick around for as long as CO2 does (methane lingers around for 12 years and soot usually a couple of weeks).
Farmers Increasing Resilience to Climate Change by Diversifying Crops
August 15, 2013 10:54 AM - Molly Redfield, Worldwatch Institute
The loss of arable land due to climate change may amount to as much as 21 percent in South America, 18 percent in Africa, and 11 to 17 percent in Europe, according to scientists at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. The potential of climate change to adversely impact food security in these regions is staggering.
China's State Council has announced plans to make green industries central to the economy by 2015
August 15, 2013 08:58 AM - Jennifer Duggan, The Ecologist
China is to fast-track expansion and investment in energy saving technologies in an attempt to tackle its worsening pollution problems. China's cabinet, the State Council, recently announced plans to make the energy saving sector a "pillar" of the economy by 2015. In a statement the council said that under the new plan the environmental protection sector will grow by 15% on average annually, reaching an output of 4.5 trillion yuan (£474 billion/$438 billion USD). China's massive economic growth has come at a major cost to its environment and even its environmental ministry has described the country's environmental situation as "grim".
Don't Dismiss the Hyperloop Opportunity
August 15, 2013 06:05 AM - Patrick Kelly, Triple Pundit
On Monday, Elon Musk, the indomitable Silicon Valley entrepreneur, unveiled his plans for a Hyperloop transportation system. The idea is to build an elevated tube from LA to SF that will transport pods full of people and cars and cargo between the two cities at 800 mph. Simpsons geeks everywhere, from Ogdenville to North Haverbrook, erupted in a derisive chorus of “Monorail." The solar-powered trip will take 30 minutes and cost $20 and that's no joke. It will be cheaper, faster, safer and more environmentally friendly than any existing mode of transportation. What's not to like" To no one's surprise, Musk's plan garnered criticism, cynicism, and outright hatred from those who shroud themselves in pragmatism and an immutable love for incremental change. USA Today says "it won’t work". TIME went way out on a limb and came up with "4 reasons why it could tank".
New technology makes "Smart Windows" even smarter
August 14, 2013 04:11 PM - Editor, ENN
"Smart windows", made out of "smart glass" allow users to control the amount of light let in and ultimately save costs for heating, air-conditioning, and lighting. Improving on this technology, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have designed a new material to make smart windows even smarter by applying a new window coating, which will essentially have a major impact on building energy efficiency.
Non-food crops lock up enough calories to feed 4 billion
August 14, 2013 11:58 AM - Lou Del Bello, SciDevNet
Global calorie availability could be increased by as much as 70 per cent — feeding an additional 4 billion people — by shifting cropland use to produce food for humans rather than livestock feed and biofuels, according to new research.
Breakthrough technology in diesel combustion results in cleaner engines
August 13, 2013 04:50 PM - Debra Goldberg, ENN
Diesel and gasoline emissions have become some of the leading concerns regarding greenhouse gases and global climate change. While diesel engines are more efficient than gasoline-powered engines, they have serious emissions problems. A breakthrough in diesel combustion technology may soon lead to cleaner diesel engines.
Coral Reefs in danger of disappearing
August 13, 2013 08:38 AM - Alex Peel, Planet Earth online
Urgent cuts in carbon emissions are needed if Caribbean coral reefs are to survive past the end of the century, scientists have warned. A new paper, published in the journal Current Biology, says Caribbean reef growth is already much slower than it was 30 years ago. Its authors say that without serious action on climate change, the reefs may stop growing and begin to break down within the next 20-30 years. 'The balance between reef growth and reef erosion is changing as we alter the environment,' says Dr Emma Kennedy of the University of Exeter, who led the study.
World Elephant Day draws our attention to the plight of these magnificent animals
August 13, 2013 06:20 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Yesterday was the second World Elephant Day. World Elephant Day was started in 2012 to focus attention on declining elephant numbers and ways that we can collectively do something about it. Fact is, humans are largely responsible! This is and elephantine task, and we are happy to, in our own way, draw attention to the effort that the World Elephant day organization is undertaking. Since the first World Elephant Day one year ago, has anything changed? Ivory poaching and trafficking crimes, and human-elephant conflict tragedies have continued to escalate taking the lives of both elephants and humans in Africa and Asia. In countries such as Sumatra and Sri Lanka, much of the endangered Asian elephants’ remaining precious habitat is being bulldozed down to make room for palm oil plantations or superhighways, all in the name of development. Although in countries from continental Africa and Asia to the USA there have been some poachers arrested, and tons of smuggled illegal ivory seized, this has made little impact on the multi-billion dollar black market industry that continues to drive the trade. It’s clear that enforcement policies and penalties are still too weak to make a difference to the kingpins behind the scenes. Meanwhile anti-poaching squads in African countries such as Kenya, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo bravely risk their lives to stop the poachers, but in many cases are no match for these heavily armed gunmen. Much about these issues has been reported by scores of journalists, advocates and conservation NGOs, from the big to the small. There are countless organizations that have been tirelessly working at all levels to bring attention to these issues and to what we can do about it.