• Permafrost Microbial Action

    There are an estimated 1,7 billion metric tons of carbon in the frozen soils at the north pole. This sequestered carbon is more than 250 times the amount of greenhouse gas emissions attributed to the United States in the year 2009. As global temperatures slowly rise, however, so too do concerns regarding the potential impacts upon the carbon cycle when the permafrost thaws and releases the carbon that has been trapped for eons. In this case the concern focus on the microbes in the permafrost that will ultimately release, contain, or somewhere in between limit the carbon release. >> Read the Full Article
  • Last year's greenhouse gas emissions topple worst-case scenario

    Global carbon emissions last year exceeded worst-case scenario predictions from just four years before, according to the US Department of Energy (DOE). A rise of 6 percent (564 million additional tons) over 2009 levels was largely driven by three nations: the US, India, and China. Emissions from burning coal jumped 8 percent overall. The new data, supported by a similar report from International Energy Agency (IEA), makes it even more difficult for nations to make good on a previous pledge to hold back the world from warming over 2 degrees Celsius. >> Read the Full Article
  • Climate change imperils global prosperity, UN warns

    A new report from the United Nations Development Program warns that if drastic measures are not taken to prepare nations for the impacts of climate change, the economic progress of the world's developing countries could stall or even be reversed by 2050. This year's annual report, approaches the issue of climate change and environmental degradation from the standpoint of economic development and the eradication of poverty. "Even if someone's a climate skeptic, this report says, 'Put that aside for a second,' " said William Orme, a spokesman for the United Nations agency. "If you believe in something like a moral commitment to the global community and in getting people out of poverty, we must address these environmental problems." Each region of the world faces unique challenges between now and 2050, the report warns, but most are linked to environmental complications arising from climate change. >> Read the Full Article
  • Tree Change in North America

    Over the last three to four decades, forests throughout much of western North America have been subjected to disturbance at a scale well beyond that previously recorded over the last century. Although some disturbances may be attributed to fire suppression policies, which have resulted in fuel accumulation and denser stands prone to insect attack, climate change is more likely the cause, based on recent surveys and analyses of natural mortality by a new study by Oregon State. In the new report, scientists outline the impact that a changing climate will have on which tree species can survive, and where. The study suggests that many species that were once able to survive and thrive are losing their competitive footholds, and opportunistic newcomers will eventually push them out. >> Read the Full Article
  • Life on Mars

    It has been speculated for centuries that life existed or once existed on Mars. A new NASA study suggests if life ever existed on Mars, the longest lasting habitats were most likely below the Red Planet's surface. A new interpretation of years of mineral-mapping data, from more than 350 sites on Mars examined by European and NASA orbiters, suggests Martian environments with abundant liquid water on the surface existed only during short episodes. These episodes occurred toward the end of a period of hundreds of millions of years during which warm water interacted with subsurface rocks. This has implications about whether life existed on Mars and how the Martian atmosphere has changed. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Future

    USGS scientists and academic colleagues have investigated how California's interconnected San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (the Bay-Delta system) is expected to change from 2010 to 2099 in response to both fast and moderate climate warming scenarios. Results indicate that this area will feel impacts of global climate change in the next century with shifts in its biological communities, rising sea level, and modified water supplies. "The protection of California's Bay-Delta system will continue to be a top priority for maintaining the state's agricultural economy, water security to tens of millions of users, and essential habitat to a valuable ecosystem," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "This new USGS research complements ongoing initiatives to conserve the Bay-Delta by providing sound scientific understanding for managing this valuable system such that it continues to provide the services we need in the face of climate uncertainty." >> Read the Full Article
  • Parched Texas town seeks emergency relief from drought

    No one drinks the tap water, which is unbearably briny as the lake dries up. After one of the hottest summers on record, the lake that is the lone water supply and main recreational draw in this tiny West Texas town is more than 99 percent empty. Robert Lee, which is a two-hour drive east of Midland, has received only about six inches of rainfall this year, half the normal amount. It is the worst water stitch the town has been in at least since the lake, E.V. Spence Reservoir, was created in the 1960s by damming a portion of the Colorado River. More water is on the way, but it will only be enough to meet the basic needs of the town of 1,049 and will come at the expense of yet another sizable water rate increase. Residents are looking forward to improved palatability and a more stable supply because Spence -- which is usually 21 times the size of the entire area of Robert Lee, but now not much bigger than a pond -- withers away. "It tastes ugly and it stinks," said Delfino Navarro, a mechanic and handyman at a local car dealership, who stood on his browning front lawn on a recent afternoon with a bottle of water in hand. "You can't drink that water or you'll get sick." >> Read the Full Article
  • Everything you might want to know about Carbon Offsets

    Companies, and individuals concerned with their impact on climate try a number of measures to reduce their emissions of air pollutants which impact the greenhouse effect of our atmosphere. The greenhouse effect is the reality that our atmosphere traps a portion of the heat we get from the sun, and from fires (both natural and man made) and other anthropgenic heat sources. Some of the gasses released by our industrialization, home heating and cooling, and transportation activities contribute to the atmosphere trapping more heat than would occur in the absence of these activities. There are emissions which CANNOT be eliminated or reduced as much as we would like. For these, companies turn to Carbon Offsets. What are Carbon Offsets? When companies or individuals purchase Carbon Offsets they are paying someone else to reduce THEIR carbon emissions (a major contributor to global warming). There are companies which assist other companies and individuals in purchasing Carbon Offsets. As in any new market, there is a learning curve for participants. Are the offsets real, are the being sold more than once? These and other questions illustrate how much needs to be learned. >> Read the Full Article
  • Why Population Matters to the environment

    Environmentalists agree on the issues facing us, including collapsing diversity, climate change and resource insecurity. We also agree on the causal factors, including pollution, invasive species, resource over-exploitation, waste, population growth, global industrialisation, unsustainable consumption and poor business practices. Solutions are harder. None will solve all our problems and all face obstacles and opposition. Technological solutions, such as biofuels, fracking, shale oil, GM foods and nuclear have side effects, while renewables have limited scope. Environmentally conscious lifestyles, including less waste, travel and consumption, are increasingly adopted, but the impact may by limited given the billions seeking to improve their low living standards. Changes to corporate and governmental practices have occurred, but are far from universal, particularly in the developing world. In my lifetime, human numbers have grown from 3 billion in 1960 to 7 billion today. By 2085, they are projected to grow to 10 billion. One can argue about the impact this makes, but it clearly does not help. We believe that a smaller population would help us to preserve the environment and live within the limit of renewable resources, as part of a comprehensive approach to the environment and sustainability. Most would agree that improving living standards for the poor, women's rights and access to health, including family planning, are desirable and they all tend to lead to women choosing to have smaller families. We would argue that aid for family planning to developing countries should be prioritised, both for environmental reasons and because it contributes to poverty alleviation, women’s empowerment and better health. While individual consumption in those countries is low, growing populations do affect the environment and they will not always be poor as the world industrialises. >> Read the Full Article
  • Prehistoric Greenhouse Data from Ocean Floor Could Predict Earth's Future, Study Finds

    ScienceDaily (Oct. 27, 2011) — New research from the University of Missouri indicates that Atlantic Ocean temperatures during the greenhouse climate of the Late Cretaceous Epoch were influenced by circulation in the deep ocean. These changes in circulation patterns 70 million years ago could help scientists understand the consequences of modern increases in greenhouse gases. >> Read the Full Article