A "giant leap backward for humankind" as CO2 levels rise after years of stability

November 13, 2017 by  
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Researchers had hoped global carbon emissions had peaked after three stable years – but a new projection shatters those hopes. The Global Carbon Project and University of East Anglia (UEA) revealed carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions could grow by two percent in 2017. Future Earth executive director Amy Luers described the news as a “giant leap backward for humankind.” Researchers presented the information at COP23 in Bonn, Germany. They’re pointing to China’s activities as the main cause – CO2 emissions there are projected to grow by around 3.5 percent. Coal use is expected to increase in China and the United States in 2017 – after decreases since 2013. Related: Almost 200 countries gather at COP23 to accelerate climate action CO2 emissions are projected to go down in America and the European Union, by 0.4 percent and 0.2 percent respectively – both smaller declines than during the prior 10 years. India’s emissions are projected to increase by around two percent – but that’s down from more than six percent a year in the last decade. UEA’s Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research director Corinne Le Quéré said in a statement, “With global CO2 emissions from human activities estimated at 41 billion tonnes for 2017, time is running out on our ability to keep warming well below two degrees Celsius, let alone 1.5 degrees Celsius. This year we have seen how climate change can amplify the impacts of hurricanes with more intense rainfall, higher sea levels, and warmer ocean conditions favoring more powerful storms. This is a window into the future.” The researchers said there are uncertainties in our ability to estimate emissions changes – Glen Peters of the CICERO Center for International Climate Research and lead author on a study said it could take up to 10 years to independently verify a change in emissions based on measurements of CO2 atmospheric concentrations. The research was published simultaneously in the journals Environmental Research Letters , Nature Climate Change , and Earth System Science Data Discussions , with scientists from around the world contributing to the studies. Via Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research , the University of East Anglia , and the AFP Images via Dirk Duckhorn on Flickr , © Robert Castillo/ Dreamstime.com via the Global Carbon Project , and the Global Carbon Project

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A "giant leap backward for humankind" as CO2 levels rise after years of stability

This rammed earth school in Ghana school cost only $13,976 to build

November 13, 2017 by  
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This amazing school in rural Ghana was built in 60 days for just $13,976. The new InsideOut School replaces the only school in the area, which was destroyed by strong winds. Architects Andrea Tabocchini & Francesca Vittorini designed the non-profit project and built it with the local community and volunteers from 20 different countries. The team had to work without electricity, which meant they had to build the structure by hand. They moved 58,000 kg of and crafted materials available on site. Local soil was compacted to create staggered walls, while a lightweight wood structure lifts the roof to allow zenithal light into the building. The skylight also facilitates natural ventilation. Related: Rammed earth school in Vietnam blooms like a colorful jungle flower The result is an affordable school that can be replicated anywhere with a similar climate. Via Plataforma Arquitectura Lead photo by Andrea Tabocchini

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This rammed earth school in Ghana school cost only $13,976 to build

Australian facility aims to produce 50,000 metric tons of building material from CO2 by 2020

August 25, 2017 by  
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Mineral Carbonation International wants to transform Carbon dioxide emissions into useful building materials . The Australian firm just unveiled a pilot plant at the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources that will attempt to mimic, but speed up, the weathering process by which rainfall produces rocks . MCi launched their technology with a demonstration of their process to transform CO2 into building products. They capture the CO2 from mining company Orica’s Kooragang Island operations. According to The Guardian, CO2 bonds with the rock serpentinite to create solid carbonates in an hour-long process. On their website, MCi says the material could potentially be used for cement , bricks, or plasterboards. Related: Why 2,000-year-old Roman concrete is stronger than our own At the same site at the University of Newcastle , a first-generation batch plant has been operating since 2016, but the university described this new semi-continuous pilot plant as the first of its kind, and said with both plants running MCi will be able to conduct research to hone the process and generate materials for testing. MCi hopes to be generating 20,000 to 50,000 metric tons of the material for use in building by 2020. MCi CEO Marcus Dawe said in a statement, “We need solutions to climate change . We need technology that is ready and tested by the time we have solved the pricing of carbon in our economy. Like the adoption of renewables in energy production, our technology aims to help decarbonize industries like cement, steel, and chemical production.” University of Melbourne geologist Peter Cook said MCi has shown the technology works chemically, but it may not offer a single solution to the large issue of climate change. He told The Guardian, “I think it’s one of these processes where you’ll be able to make money from it in the local area. The difficulty is, for instance we’re getting 36 billion tonnes of CO2 per annum from our use of fossil fuel .” He did say he didn’t want to diminish the great value in MCi’s work. + Mineral Carbonation International Via The Guardian and University of Newcastle Images via Orica and University of Newcastle

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Australian facility aims to produce 50,000 metric tons of building material from CO2 by 2020

Scientists say we have 10 years to save Earth

April 14, 2017 by  
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Time is running out to protect Earth from the disastrous effects of climate change . An international team of eight researchers said we have just 10 years to save the planet. But their news isn’t all bad: they’ve come up with a model for balancing carbon dioxide emissions with carbon sinks , like forests, to keep temperatures from passing the 1.5 degree Celsius mark widely considered safe for life as we know it. Scientists say if the world actually intends to stick to the Paris agreement , the next decade will be critical. They say there are two ways to reduce carbon emissions: by slashing the emissions we humans produce and by restoring carbon sinks, and it’s time to take action on both. They detailed their plan in a Nature Communications study, published online yesterday. Related: Scientists say Trump’s presidency could lead to a “game over” scenario for the planet World Bank consultant Brian Walsh, who led the study while doing research for the Austria-based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), said they scrutinized carbon emissions from fossil fuels , agriculture, food production, bioenergy, and land use. They also accounted for natural ecosystems taking in carbon emissions to determine where they originate and where they go. Here’s the recommendation: we must reduce fossil fuel use to the point where it’s under 25 percent of the global energy supply by 2100; it’s at 95 percent right now. And we need to reduce deforestation to attain a 42 percent decrease in emissions by 2100. Renewable energy is also part of the answer. The researchers considered four scenarios for energy development in the future. A high-renewable scenario would see wind, solar, and bioenergy use increase by five percent a year so emissions would peak by 2022. Even that pathway would lead to a 2.5 degrees Celsius temperature increase if we don’t also employ negative emissions technologies. IIASA Energy Program Director and co-author Keywan Riahi said, “Earlier work on mitigation strategies by IIASA has shown the importance of demand-side measures, including efficiency, conservation , and behavioral change. Success in these areas may explain the difference between reaching 1.5 degrees Celsius instead of 2 degrees Celsius.” Via the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and EcoWatch Images via Wikimedia Commons and Pixabay

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Street artist constructs gigantic geometric portraits with reclaimed wood

April 14, 2017 by  
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Belgian street artist Stefaan De Croock (a.k.a. Strook ) just unveiled a gigantic portrait made entirely out of reclaimed wood . Working with wood fragments of various shapes, sizes and colors, the artist created the enormous 30-foot-high portrait on the side of a high-rise for the Crystal Ship Arts Festival in Ostend, Belgium. The large art piece was created with reclaimed wood pieces sourced from old homes, studios, boats, and even a shipwreck. Using the wood’s original color palette and natural textures as a guide, the artist painstakingly created a beautiful female form. Related: Italian artist creates extraordinary sculptures out of reclaimed driftwood The artist and graphic designer is well-known for his creative street art and was commissioned this year by the arts festival to create a large-scale piece. Strook’s portrait is one of many art pieces on display by some 20 international and local artists who were invited to attend the festival. + Strook Via This is Colossal Photography by Sasha Bogojev for Arrested Motion

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Street artist constructs gigantic geometric portraits with reclaimed wood

Senate Republicans could save methane rules from Trump

April 14, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump is facing opposition to his rolling back of environmental regulations. Of course climate activists and Democrats are fighting back against the administration’s attempts to undermine Obama-era rules on everything from fuel efficiency standards to preventing coal ash from being dumped in rivers. On at least one Trump action however, it is Republicans in the Senate who are pushing back — a bill to overturn a methane regulation for public lands has stalled in the Senate (it passed the GOP-controlled House in February) because, according to reporting from Mother Jones , “a number of moderate and Western state Republican senators have worried about the implications of permanently restricting the Interior Department’s ability to regulate methane emissions.” Methane is a powerful, although short-lived, greenhouse gas with at least 86 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide over a time span of 20 years in the atmosphere and 34 times the strength of CO2 over a 100-year time scale. The Interior Department’s methane and natural gas rule limits the release of methane from oil and gas operations on public lands. The natural gas is wasted through leaks, intentional venting, or burning off the gas — a process known as flaring. Related: House Republicans move to make methane pollution great again Some Senate Republicans are hedging on repealing the methane rules because of the permanency of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) that allows for Congress to overturn federal rulemaking with a simple majority vote. In other words, the CRA blocks federal agencies from putting forward similar rules at any point in the future, meaning the Bureau of Land Management might not ever be able to regulate methane pollution on public lands no matter who sits in the White House or what party controls Congress. A recent survey by Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions found strong support for current federal methane regulations aimed at reducing natural gas emissions. “The idea that conservatives would be attacking a waste reduction measure is kind of bizarre,” the Wilderness Society’s deputy director of energy and climate, Josh Mantell, told Mother Jones. Via Mother Jones Images via Flickr 1 , 2

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17 states challenge Trump’s climate policy in court

April 6, 2017 by  
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17 American states are pushing back after President Donald Trump ‘s executive order targeting the environment last week. The New York -led coalition is legally challenging the Trump administration after the president’s attempts to undo Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan . They say it’s the administration’s legal duty to regulate climate change -causing emissions . Trump’s executive order called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to suspend, rescind, or revise the Clean Power Plan, a law that would have required states to cut carbon dioxide emissions at power plants but which was challenged by 26 states led by Republicans. After the recent executive order, the EPA asked the United States court of appeals for the District of Columbia to delay proceedings over the law to give them time to review it. The 17 states say this move could delay litigation for years – time we need to spend acting on climate change. They asked the court to toss out the EPA’s request. Related: 75 American mayors affirm climate goals even after Trump executive order New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement: “The law is clear: the EPA must limit carbon pollution from power plants. In order to repeal Obama-era protections, the Trump administration must replace those protections, as well – and we know how well repeal-and-replace went the first time around. My office will continue to defend the Clean Power Plan and aggressively oppose any effort to stand down from our shared responsibility to protect our environment and our climate.” The 17 states – New York, California, Connecticut, Virginia, Delaware, Vermont, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Illinois, Oregon, Iowa, New Mexico, Maine, Minnesota, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Washington – were also joined by seven localities: the District of Columbia; New York City; Boulder, Colorado; Chicago, Illinois; South Miami, Florida; Broward County, Florida; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. According to New York’s press release, the Clean Power Plan could eliminate as much pollution as more than 160 million cars – 70 percent of America’s passenger cars – yearly could emit. Via The Guardian Images via Gage Skidmore on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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17 states challenge Trump’s climate policy in court

UN warns of 3C global temperature increase without swift and aggressive global leadership

November 3, 2016 by  
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A new report from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) warns that global temperatures will rise to 3C over pre-industrial levels if more drastic cuts are not made to greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. The UN report criticizes world leaders for not taking climate change more seriously, saying that at least a quarter must be cut from emissions by the end of the next decade in order to curb the warming trend. The 3C increase cited in the report is far above the 2C threshold set by the Paris climate agreement last December, which goes into effect on Friday of this week. The new UNEP report was compiled to measure the impact of current emissions trends on future temperature levels worldwide. The report says, by 2030, global emissions could reach 56 metric gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent each year. Previous scientific studies have identified 42 metric gigatons as the threshold at which warming will exceed a 2C increase over pre-industrial temperatures, which is the scenario on which the Paris climate deal was constructed. Related: Historic Paris climate deal on track to activate before year’s end Since the historic international climate accord was signed last December by representatives of 197 nations, just 94 have ratified the agreement as of October 4, 2016. While this surpasses the participation milestone that activates the agreement, it doesn’t determine how quickly those nations will make the necessary changes to slow climate change. Although the world is “moving in the right direction,” said UNEP chief Erik Solheim, it’s not enough. “If we don’t start taking additional action now,” he added, “we will grieve over the avoidable human tragedy.” Via The Guardian Images via Pixabay and Christopher Michel/Flickr

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Dutch parliament votes to shut down all of the country’s coal plants

September 26, 2016 by  
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The Dutch parliament voted Thursday night to shutter the nation’s coal industry in order to achieve a 55-percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. The vote, which is not yet binding, would require shutting down the five coal power plants currently operating in the Netherlands, three of which just came online in 2015. Slashing CO2 emissions by 55 percent would bring the country’s emissions in line with the targets set by the Paris climate deal last December, and set a strong precedent among European nations for policies to slow the effects of climate change . The Netherlands’ Liberal and Labour parties led the 77 to 72 vote on September 22, in favor of the 2030 emissions reduction goal. Parliament will next move to get the plan into effect. The decision comes on the heels of the discovery that the nation’s CO2 emissions have jumped 5 percent over the last year, which analysts blame on the three new coal-fired power plants. Turning away from coal power is the fastest and simplest method for drastically reducing emissions over time. Related: Peak number of coal plants are shutting down in 2015, ushering in a greener era “Closing down big coal plants–even if they were recently opened–is by far the most cost effective way to achieve the goals of the Paris agreement, and all countries will need to take such far-reaching measures,” the Dutch Liberal MP and vice president of the parliament, Stientje van Veldhoven, told the Guardian. “We cannot continue to use coal as the cheapest source of energy when it is the most expensive from a climate perspective.” The most recent vote echoes the court order last year which demanded prime minister Mark Rutte’s government make climate change a bigger priority by cutting emissions 25-percent by 2020. That short-term goal is included in the measure approved last week. Opponents of the plan have argued that the Dutch coal plants are cleaner than those operating elsewhere in the world, and many are concerned that the leading candidate in March’s election for a new government would block the initiative. Supporters hope the current government will act quickly to move the plan forward, in an effort to secure a greener future for the nation—or at least delay the ill effects of the next administration. Via The Guardian Images via RWE and Shutterstock

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Dutch parliament votes to shut down all of the country’s coal plants

Tiny nano motors could scrub our oceans clean of CO2 pollution

October 1, 2015 by  
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Tiny nanomotors could help scrub oceans clean of carbon dioxide pollution. Scientists at the University of California in San Diego have developed a system of nano machines that remove CO2 as they pass through water. If successful, the nano machines could slow down climate change while promoting greater ocean health at the same time. Read the rest of Tiny nano motors could scrub our oceans clean of CO2 pollution

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