Risky geoengineering research deemed safe, blocked by US

March 25, 2019 by  
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New study conducted by Harvard, MIT and Princeton claims that releasing sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere to cool the climate could be safe, only if gas injections are limited to only cooling temperatures by half of what is needed to stop global warming. About two weeks later, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia blocked a United Nations proposal to commission further research on the emerging technology— called geoengineering — a move that both supporters and opponents of the technology see as blatant protection of the fossil fuel industry at the potential peril of the world. What is geoengineering? Geoengineering is a term used for a collection of technologies to artificially alter the earth’s climate. Other climate engineering technologies include ocean fertilization , carbon dioxide removal , marine cloud brightening , cirrus cloud thinning  and ground-based albedo modification. These strategies are incredibly controversial both because of the unprecedented and unknown risks at a global scale, but also for ethical reasons of how humans should intervene in the earth’s climate. The concept of injecting sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere mimics the gases naturally released by volcanoes. The gases block the sun’s rays and cool the earth’s climate. Millions of tons of cooling aerosols would need to be released to limit temperatures to the recommended 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. Related: Man-made climate change now at the level scientists call ‘five-sigma’ What are the risks? Most geoengineering technologies have not been deployed in large scale experiments and therefore the risks can only be predicted with computer modeling. Previous studies concluded that injecting sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere might alter rain and storm patterns and decrease water availability. There are also concerns that geoengineering would disproportionately impact certain regions, such as increasing cyclones in Asia and drought in Africa. What does the new study reveal? The Harvard-led study used computer simulation to reach a radical new conclusion: that blocking only half of the temperature increase would not have the risks typically associated with sulfur dioxide injection. In fact, their university-funded study – revealed that only 0.4 percent of the earth might experience worsened climate impacts. Alan Robock, a geophysics professor at Rutgers University,  warned The Guardian that Harvard’s study only looked at a few of the potential consequences. Robock’s own study lists 27 reasons against geoengineering, including its annual price tag of billions of dollars, the disruption of stratospheric chemistry, ice formation and increased UV exposure, as well as ethical questions of whether people have the right to see blue sky. US and Saudi Arabia block proposal to continue research In a controversial move at the United Nations, the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Brazil rejected a Swiss proposal to commission further research on geoengineering. The proposal called for the assemblage of an expert committee to oversee geoengineering research and governance. Given the technology’s potential benefits and global-scale risks, most countries agreed the U.N. should oversee research as well as establish rules for future deployment. “I think governance is an incredibly vital component of geoengineering,” Shuchi Talati of the Union of Concerned Scientists told E&E News . “Even if you’re opposed to geoengineering, you need a governance mechanism to be able to enforce that.” The U.S. and Saudi Arabia are two of the world’s largest oil producing countries. They rejected the proposal over language stating that geoengineering should not be explored as an alternative to mitigation – in other words, they opposed the idea that reducing carbon emissions should still be the priority. The U.S. also leads the way in geoengineering research and resisted any oversight on its ability to independently implement its discoveries instead of curbing its carbon emissions . Currently, no international law explicitly prohibits countries from deploying large-scale sulfur dioxide injections, despite profound global-scale impacts. Controversy, ethics and impasse Many environmentalists argue geoengineering does not address the causes of global warming – carbon emissions – and that once the injected gases dissipate, they will have to be re-injected every year. Many also argue that even investment in research sends a message that countries may not need to keep to their Paris Agreement commitments of curtailing emissions since a back-up fix may be approved. Current predictions show that even if countries keep their ambition commitments, the earth will reach a disastrous 3 degrees warmer. “It seems to me inconsistent to say, on the one hand, that global warming is the biggest problem that humanity faces, and then go on to say, on the other hand, but we shouldn’t even do research on [solar radiation management] because it may pose risks,” Daniel Bodansky, an expert in international climate agreements from Arizona State University  told E&E News . “Either climate change is the biggest problem we face or it’s not. And if it is, then it’s all hands on deck.” Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock

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Risky geoengineering research deemed safe, blocked by US

The biggest crisis is also the greatest opportunity

December 1, 2016 by  
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The Rainforest Alliance wants to fight climate change by taking sustainable agriculture to a global scale.

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The biggest crisis is also the greatest opportunity

Time really is money in this little New Zealand town

December 18, 2015 by  
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In Lyttleton, New Zealand, an unusual currency has been circulating for the past decade, and now it’s gaining attention on a global scale. In the small port town, residents contribute hours to a ‘time bank’ from which others can make withdrawals, effectively allowing community members to trade the skills they possess in exchange for services they need. In a community where time literally is money, local residents have discovered a new kind of wealth. Read the rest of Time really is money in this little New Zealand town

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Time really is money in this little New Zealand town

World’s top climate scientists again calling for zero-GHG emissions nuclear power to replace fossil fuels

December 7, 2015 by  
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Four of the world’s top climate scientists got together to pen a recommendation for steering away from the ill effects of global warming. As the UN climate conference ticks on outside Paris, leading climate experts presented a call for practical solutions to very real problems, on a global scale. Now, this group of experts are echoing a sentiment they backed in 2013 , saying that cutting greenhouse gas emissions by replacing fossil fuel energy generation with nuclear power – utilized alongside other renewable sources of energy – is the only realistic approach to combating climate change. Read the rest of World’s top climate scientists again calling for zero-GHG emissions nuclear power to replace fossil fuels

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World’s top climate scientists again calling for zero-GHG emissions nuclear power to replace fossil fuels

New IPCC chief: Let’s focus on climate change solutions rather than more research

October 13, 2015 by  
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The realm of science is not wholly unlike the realm of journalism. Many feel that a tenet of the trade is to observe and report without getting involved. However, the new leader of the world’s foremost climate science agency disagrees. Hoesung Lee, the newly appointed head of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), thinks it’s time to shift the focus from investigating the effects of climate change to finding solutions. In the weeks leading up to the Paris climate talks, can this new perspective help shape the discussion on a global scale? Read the rest of New IPCC chief: Let’s focus on climate change solutions rather than more research

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New IPCC chief: Let’s focus on climate change solutions rather than more research

This interactive infographic lets you visualize global carbon emissions

July 10, 2015 by  
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If we are going to really start tackling climate change on a global scale, we are going to need to be able to identify the major culprits of carbon emissions. To help make the job easier, the World Resources Institute created the CAIT Climate Data Explorer, which lets you conceptualize the world’s emissions in one handy, interactive infographic. Head over to the tool  to play around and get the full emissions picture. + CAIT Climate Data Explorer via Treehugger   Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: carbon emissions , Climate Change , climate change infographic , data visualization , emissions , emissions infographic , global warming , infographic , visualizing climate change , visualizing emissions

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This interactive infographic lets you visualize global carbon emissions

How She Leads: Gap’s Kindley Walsh Lawlor

August 22, 2011 by  
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The clothing retailer’s vice president of social and environmental responsibility talks about the goals in Gap’s just-released CSR report and why the apparel industry can make a significant impact on a global scale.

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How She Leads: Gap’s Kindley Walsh Lawlor

Unlocking Energy Efficiency in China: A Guide to Partnering with Suppliers

June 17, 2010 by  
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This new report from BSR provides a clear outline for how leading companies can launch supply chain energy-efficiency programs in China, building upon its experience helping Walmart launch its initiative to improve the energy efficiency of its top 200 China-based suppliers by 20 percent by 2012.

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Unlocking Energy Efficiency in China: A Guide to Partnering with Suppliers

Carbon Footprinting: The Next Step to Reducing Your Emissions

June 17, 2010 by  
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This guide from The Carbon Trust clearly explains how to manage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by understanding what emissions are caused by a business’s activities or products.

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Carbon Footprinting: The Next Step to Reducing Your Emissions

Second Carrots and Sticks Report Surveys Current Status of Sustainability Reporting

June 15, 2010 by  
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The Global Reporting Initiative collaborates with the United Nations Environment Programme and KPMG to provide recommendations for improved reporting on a global scale.

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Second Carrots and Sticks Report Surveys Current Status of Sustainability Reporting

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