• Wind Power and Climate Change

    Though there is enough power in Earth's winds to be a primary source of near-zero emission electric power for the world, large-scale high altitude wind power generation is unlikely to substantially affect climate. That is the conclusion of a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory climate scientist and collaborators who studied the geophysical limits to global wind power in a paper appearing in the Sept. 9 edition of the journal Nature Climate Change. "The future of wind energy is likely to be determined by economic, political and technical constraints rather than geophysical limits," said Kate Marvel, lead author of the paper and a scientist in the Laboratory's Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison. >> Read the Full Article
  • What Caused the Significant Fish Mortality in Lake Erie?

    Tens of thousands of dead fish that washed up on Lake Erie beaches in Ontario, Canada -- and had locals wondering if something or someone had poisoned the water -- were likely killed by a lack of oxygen caused when lake sediment was stirred up, the province reported Friday. Water samples "do not show evidence of a manure spill or anything unusual in terms of contaminants," Ministry of Environment spokeswoman Kate Jordan told NBC News. Jordan said it wasn't known if the die-off was unprecedented, but that "it was a significant number -- tens of thousands." The fish were found along 25 miles of beach, with locals first coming across them on Monday. >> Read the Full Article
  • Creating Faster Charging Electric Car Batteries

    The amount of time it takes to recharge lithium-ion batteries has been a major impediment to consumer acceptance of electric vehicles. But a host of companies and researchers are working intensively to develop a battery that can recharge in 10 minutes and power a car for hundreds of miles. If stopping for gas took five or six hours, would you rethink that road trip? How about an hour? When it comes to electric vehicles, topping up the "tank" does indeed take a long time, one of the primary barriers to more widespread adoption of EVs. So it is no surprise that there is an aggressive push to improve batteries and charging infrastructure, with a goal of making a stop for a recharge no different than a stop for gas. >> Read the Full Article
  • U.S. Emissions Reach 20-Year Low, but its not time to congratulate ourselves just yet!

    Climate scientists are getting their fair share of surprises this year, from the record-breaking ice melt in the Arctic to the fact that first-quarter U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have hit their lowest point since 1992. CO2 emissions from energy consumption for the January-March period fell to 1.34 billion metric tons, down 8 percent from a year ago. While the depressed economy and rising renewable energy generation have contributed to emissions reductions in the past few years, the early 2012 low-point is due mainly to a combination of three factors: the relatively warm winter, reduced gasoline demand, and the continued decline in coal-fired electricity. Carbon emissions from energy consumption fell to 1.34 billion metric tons. (EIA) The declining demand for coal power is especially significant. Although emissions from natural gas and petroleum each dropped nearly 3 percent from the same period in 2011 (mainly because of lower heating demands in the mild winter), coal emissions fell 18 percent, to their lowest point since 1986. >> Read the Full Article
  • Tropical Forests Sustainability

    The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has recently released a report, "Wood for Good: Solutions for Deforestation-Free Wood Products," analyzing tropical wood production’s effect on deforestation and offering solutions for sustainable production. According to the report, governments and businesses must begin using sustainably established plantation forests to minimize the toll logging is taking on tropical forests. Many of the products used every day by American businesses and consumers are made from tropical wood, including paper, furniture, building material and shipping supplies. The destruction of virginal tropical forests for forestry products should be replaced with sustainable and repeatable plantation forests. >> Read the Full Article
  • Mackenzie River Basin Governance Forum

    The governance of Canada's massive Mackenzie River Basin holds enormous national but also global importance due to the watershed's impact on the Arctic Ocean, international migratory birds and climate stability, say experts convening a special forum on the topic. "Relevant parties in western Canada have recognized the need for a multi-party transboundary agreement that will govern land and water management in the Mackenzie River watershed. Successful collaboration will effectively determine the management regime for a watershed covering 1.8 million square kilometers or about 20 percent of Canada -- an area roughly three times the size of France -- and include the country's vast oil sands," says University of California Prof. Henry Vaux, Chair of the Rosenberg Forum, which meets Sept. 5-7 at Vancouver's Simon Fraser University with the support of the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation. The Forum's goals include identifying legal and scientific principles relevant to the processes leading ultimately to a coordinated basin-wide approach to management, as well as prioritizing knowledge gaps. >> Read the Full Article
  • Perfluorooctanoic Acid and Heart Disease

    Perfluorooctanoic acid is a synthetic, stable perfluorinated carboxylic acid and fluorosurfactant. It has been used in the manufacture of such prominent consumer goods as Teflon and Gore-Tex. Exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a man made chemical used in the manufacture of some common household products, appears to be associated with cardiovascular disease and peripheral arterial disease in a study of 1,216 individuals, according to a report published Online First by Archives of Internal Medicine. Surveys have suggested that PFOA (widely used in the manufacture of products such as lubricants, polishes, paper and textile coatings, and food packaging) is detectable in the blood of more than 98 percent of the U.S. population. Some evidence has suggested that an association may be biologically plausible between PFOA exposure and cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to the study background. >> Read the Full Article
  • How Can Cities Reduce the "Heat Island" They Create?

    More than 20,000 high-temperature records have been broken so far this year in the United States. And the heat is especially bad in cities, which are heating up about twice as fast as the rest of the planet. High temperatures increase the risk of everything from asthma to allergies, and can even be deadly. But a researcher in Atlanta also sees this urban heat wave as an opportunity to do something about our warming planet. The story starts at Ebenezer Baptist Church, arguably the most famous place in Atlanta; it was Martin Luther King Jr.'s church and the heart of the civil rights movement. >> Read the Full Article
  • Atmospheric Methane Reductions Attributed to not Venting it!

    Increased capture of natural gas from oil fields probably accounts for up to 70 percent of the dramatic leveling off seen in atmospheric methane at the end of the 20th century, according to new UC Irvine research being published in the journal Nature. "We can now say with confidence that, based on our data, the trend is largely a result of changes in fossil fuel use," said chemistry professor Donald Blake, senior author on the paper. Methane has 20 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, although CO2 is filling the atmosphere in far larger amounts. After decades of increases due to worldwide industrial and agricultural activity, the tapering off of methane from the 1980s through 2005 was remarkable. Scientists have long wrestled with the cause. >> Read the Full Article
  • Highway in Boliva would cut through National Park

    Growing conflicts over development in South America have come to a head in Bolivia, where indigenous groups are resisting a highway project that would slice through a national park. How Bolivia resolves this showdown could point the way for other regions seeking to balance economic growth and the environment. Carmelo Aguilera steadies the dugout canoe as his 11-year-old son, Juan Gabriel, stands precariously and aims his bow and arrow toward the Secure River below. "Fish flesh makes better bait," says the boy, explaining why the dawn expedition begins with a hunter's weapon rather than a hook and line. Deep inside Bolivia's Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory, known as TIPNIS, the Aguileras live more than 30 hours by boat from the nearest city, surviving mainly on fish and a few homegrown crops. "The river is our lifeblood," says Aguilera, 62. >> Read the Full Article