• Can the Kyoto Protocol be saved?

    Countries will make a last ditch effort to save a dying Kyoto Protocol at global climate talks starting on Monday aimed at cutting the greenhouse gas emissions blamed by scientists for rising sea levels, intense storms and crop failures. Kyoto, which was adopted in 1997 and entered into force in 2005, commits most developed states to binding emissions targets. The talks are the last chance to set another round of targets before the first commitment period ends in 2012. Major parties have been at loggerheads for years, warnings of climate disaster are becoming more dire and diplomats worry whether host South Africa is up to the challenge of brokering the tough discussions among nearly 200 countries that run from Monday to December 9 in the coastal city of Durban. There is hope for a deal to help developing countries most hurt by global warming and a stop-gap measure to save the protocol. There is also a chance advanced economies responsible for most emissions will pledge deeper cuts at the talks known as the Conference of the Parties, or COP 17. >> Read the Full Article
  • Mexican farmers suffer worst drought in 70 years

    Mexico is being battered its worst drought in seven decades, which has devastated farm life and is expected to continue into next year. The lack of rainfall has affected almost 70 percent of the country and northern states like Coahuila, San Luis Potosi, Sonora, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas have suffered the most acute water shortage. Due to the drought and a cold snap at the start of the year, the government has cut its forecast for corn production two times in 2011. It now expects a harvest of 20 million tonnes compared to a previous estimate of 23 million. Crops that cover tens of thousands of acres have been lost this year and roughly 450,000 cattle have died in arid pastures. Crucial dams, typically full at this time of year, are at 30 to 40 percent of capacity. "This is very serious," Ignacio Rivera, an official at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, told Reuters. "Statistics on precipitation in the country show us that this year has been the driest in the last 70 years." The country has total arable land of 22 million hectares (54.4 million acres) that can be tilled over two planting seasons while the national cattle herd last year was just over 32.6 million. >> Read the Full Article
  • UN Climate Chief warns Science, not politics must drive Durban climate talks

    Global climate talks need to focus on the growing threat from extreme weather and shift away from political squabbles that hobble progress toward a tougher pact to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, the head of the U.N. climate panel said. Negotiators from nearly 200 countries meet in Durban, South Africa, on Monday for two-week talks, with minimal expectations of major progress toward an agreement that will eventually bind all major economies to emissions caps. Rajendra Pachauri warned the latest round of talks risked being bogged down by "short-term and narrow political considerations." "It is absolutely essential that the negotiators get a continuous and repeated exposure to the science of climate change," Pachauri told Reuters in an interview late on Tuesday. "If we were to do that it will definitely have an impact on the quality and outcome of the negotiations, after all these are human beings, they have families, they are people also worried about what is going to happen to the next generations." >> Read the Full Article
  • The Chevrolet Carbon Stories, Part 3 Metrolina Greenhouse

    It's no secret that all buildings, whether residential or business, need energy for heat. No building is a better example than a greenhouse, which traditionally uses fossil fuels to create enough heat to grow plants. That's a lot of energy expended. But what if we can substitute fossil fuel for biomass, especially waste wood or tree trimmings / waste from forests in place of fossil fuels? As part of its Carbon Reduction Initiative, Chevrolet is supporting Metrolina Greenhouse in North Carolina. Metrolina grows over 70 million plants a year and is one of four greenhouse projects from the same developer that is utilizing biomass burners for heating the greenhouse instead of fossil fuel burners. The greenhouses grow plant materials that are shipped all over the U.S. The biomass fuel is mostly wood that would otherwise be destined for the landfill, or low value wood from forest thinnings. This type of biomass meets the United Nation's Clean Development Mechanism’s "Definition of Renewable Biomass." This project will reduce fossil fuel consumption, divert waste from landfills and improve the quality of air for the community surrounding it. >> Read the Full Article
  • Economic woes no excuse for climate inaction, says China

    Economic problems in Europe and elsewhere should not get in the way of a new pact to fight global warming, China's top climate official said on Tuesday ahead of major climate talks in South Africa. Delegates from nearly 200 countries meet from Monday till Dec 9 in Durban as part of marathon U.N.-led negotiations on a broader pact to curb growing greenhouse gas emissions as the world faces rising sea levels and greater weather extremes. "After the financial crisis, every country has had its problems, but these problems are just temporary," Xie Zhenhua, vice-director of the National Development and Reform Commission, told reporters on Tuesday. Officials in Beijing have suggested economic turmoil in Europe and political unrest in North Africa have pushed climate change far down the list of global priorities, overshadowing next week's talks and undermining plans to provide cash and technical support to poor nations to adapt to climate change. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Contribution of Peatland CO2 to Climate Change

    Peat, the accumulated turf made up of decayed vegetation, forms in many parts of the world in places like bogs, moors, and swamp forests. Due to its high carbon content, it can be harvested and burned as fuel. There are estimates that the global inventory of peat, covering 2 percent of all land area, contains 8 billion terajoules of energy. A new study has revealed that peat also has a high potential to contribute to climate change. The study, published by researchers from Bangor University in Maine, found that drought causes the release of far more carbon dioxide from peat than previously assumed. >> Read the Full Article
  • African nations show leadership for action against climate change

    Africa is leading the push for clean energy policy-making as climate change turns millions of its people into "food refugees," the head of the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) Achim Steiner said. "On the African continent, there is sometimes more leadership being shown by countries, by governments, than we see in some of the industrialized nations," Steiner told Reuters. "Kenya is currently doubling its energy and electricity generating infrastructure largely using renewables. These are policies that are pioneering, that are innovative," he said. Kenya generates most of its energy from hydroelectric dams but water levels have fallen due to recurring drought. It is now investing heavily in geothermal and wind power. The African Development Bank is financing Africa's biggest wind farm on the shores of Lake Turkana, one of the windiest places on Earth. The $819-million project aims to produce 300 megawatts (MW) of electricity per year, boosting Kenya's energy supply by 30 percent. >> Read the Full Article
  • Climate Extremes to Come

    The weather has always been an interesting variable in the lives of every person. What impact will global warming have? Will there more extreme weather behavior? A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that an increase in heat waves as well as hurricanes, floods, and droughts will likely become more intense in the next century. The United Nations IPCC's new special report on extreme weather, which includes a range of possible scenarios based on future greenhouse gas emissions, urges governments worldwide to draft plans to minimize the likely human and economic costs of these weather phenomena. >> Read the Full Article
  • Date and Rate of Earth's Most Extreme Extinction Pinpointed: Results Stem from Largest Ever Examination of Fossil Marine Species

    ScienceDaily (Nov. 17, 2011) — It's well known that Earth's most severe mass extinction occurred about 250 million years ago. What's not well known is the specific time when the extinctions occurred. A team of researchers from North America and China have published a paper in Science which explicitly provides the date and rate of extinction. >> Read the Full Article
  • Chevrolet's Carbon Initiative Program, Part Two

    In the U.S., the best wind resources are in the Northern Plains – but it’s virtually impossible for a single individual to build a multi-million dollar turbine. But if a group of individuals come together, they can work with an enterprising electric company to create a community- supported wind farm. As part of its Carbon Initiative Program, Chevrolet is supporting the Crow Lake Wind Project, a 108 turbine, 162 MW wind project owned by the Basin Electric Cooperative, a public power entity serving rural cooperative power customers principally in the north central plains states. The project was built utilizing a first-of-its-kind community wind investment partnership. In addition, this is the largest project currently operational in South Dakota. The first 100 turbines, owned by Basin Electric Cooperative, enabled the two smaller projects to be developed. Seven turbines are owned by a group of around one hundred local community investors (farmers, ranchers, local businesses). The last turbine is owned by the Mitchell Technical Institute, a school providing vocational education to local students – including training in construction, operations and maintenance of wind farms. Fully operational since February 2011, the Crow Lake Wind Project introduces wind energy into a system heavily dependent on conventional coal combustion, diversifying the resource base. It also supplies and supports rural consumer-owned electric cooperatives and creates community jobs in construction and operations. >> Read the Full Article