On saving forests, the world’s largest carbon sinks

August 12, 2017 by  
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Satellite data shows forests in retreat. If the carbon encased in just fir trees is released, our warming blanket of carbon dioxide would turn to an overheating quilt.

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On saving forests, the world’s largest carbon sinks

Microsoft’s cloud serves up energy emissions data in near real time

August 9, 2017 by  
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The service, based on RMI’s WattTime, tracks the carbon dioxide, sulphur and other atmospheric-polluting emissions produced by specific power plants.

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Microsoft’s cloud serves up energy emissions data in near real time

When genetic engineering is the environmentally friendly choice

August 9, 2017 by  
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CRISPR gene editing can fight crop disease far more benignly than conventional practices.

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When genetic engineering is the environmentally friendly choice

Debunking the 14 myths about why we should go nuclear

August 9, 2017 by  
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Awaiting the DOE study on baseload generation, here are the reasons why energy efficiency, grid flexibility and renewables enhance low-cost reliability.

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Debunking the 14 myths about why we should go nuclear

There is no ‘new normal’ for climate — only change

July 14, 2017 by  
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Still, there are many reasons we need to eliminate our carbon dioxide emissions, limit global warming and help society adapt to the future.

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There is no ‘new normal’ for climate — only change

Former NASA chief scientist says Americans ‘under siege’ from fake climate news

June 12, 2017 by  
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The science is in on climate change – it’s real and hurting Earth right now. But not all Americans are aware of the threat, according to former NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan. She said the country’s citizens are “under siege by fake information that’s being put forward by people who have a profit motive.” Stofan said the science on climate change is unequivocal. Nevertheless there are still deniers of the phenomenon in the United States – some holding top government positions. Stofan said disinformation and half-truths designed to confuse people have been spread about climate change, and now many people in the country are unaware of the pressing consequences of carbon emissions continuing as is. Related: Americans don’t trust climate change science because of fossil fuel industry’s disinformation She said oil and coal companies have been behind the disinformation, telling The Guardian, “Fake news is so harmful because once people take on a concept it’s very hard to dislodge it.” Stofan said she saw “an erosion of people’s ability to scrutinize information” across the political spectrum, not just on the left or the right. “All of us have a responsibility. There’s this attitude of ‘I read it on the Internet therefore it must be true,” she said. Stofan said the American science community has been realizing the threat of climate change fake news during the past six months, and are working to communicate more with the public and share information with the press. During her career Stofan pointed to planetary science as important for understanding the environment here on Earth. She said planetary science has offered proof that atmospheric carbon dioxide results in a warmer climate . She finds similarities between Earth’s carbon emissions and the runaway greenhouse effect on the planet Venus . Venus once had oceans but now the volcano and lava plain-strewn planet has temperatures nearing 500 degrees Celsius – Space.com described the planet as “our solar system’s analog to hell.” Stofan told The Guardian, “We won’t go all the way to Venus, but the consequences of putting more and more CO2 into the atmosphere are really dire. There are models that suggest if we burn off all our fossil fuels , the Earth would become uninhabitable for humans.” She said our first job should be to keep Earth habitable. Via The Guardian Images via Pexels and Wikimedia Commons

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Former NASA chief scientist says Americans ‘under siege’ from fake climate news

Swiss company touts carbon capture breakthrough

June 12, 2017 by  
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Climeworks plans to use the carbon dioxide captured at a facility near Zurich as fertilizer for greenhouses.

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Swiss company touts carbon capture breakthrough

This futuristic vertical factory feeds off a city’s waste to produce energy

April 13, 2017 by  
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Most factories gobble up natural resources while belching out pollution – but could these mammoth buildings actually benefit the cities of the future? Designers Tianshu Liu and Lingshen Xie just unveiled plans for a cleaner and greener vertical factory that doubles as a self-sustaining ecosystem . The soaring structure consists of alternating layers of industry and nature that support each other to create a sustainable urban environment. The forward-thinking design recently came in second place in the 2017 Evolo Skyscraper Competition . The multi-layered complexes would actively contribute to the environment of megacities, emitting zero CO2 emissions, improving local energy efficiency , and providing a higher quality of life for factory workers. Related: China plans its first “Forest City” to fight air pollution The vertical factory was inspired by the rapidly-growing city of Manila, where urbanization is spawning new industries and more pollution. The Vertical Factory would ensure green growth by transforming the city’s organic waste into water, fertilizer, heat and electricity. Via Evolo

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This futuristic vertical factory feeds off a city’s waste to produce energy

Doughnut Economics: the long-sought alternative to endless growth

April 13, 2017 by  
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Finding a healthy alternative to the prevailing growth model that has strained the planet to bursting is the holy grail of environmental economics. And it looks like maybe we’ve found it. George Monbiot, the most dynamic environmental journalist I know, wrote about Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist , which “redraws the economy” in such a way that the planet and its inhabitants can thrive, with or without growth. It’s so similar to the kind of closed-loop thinking we see frequently on Inhabitat, whether in permaculture design or William McDonough’s new approach to integrating the carbon cycle , it seemed important to share. I’ll point out a few excerpts below, but please do read Monbiot’s longer analysis . It starts with what he says is the most important question: “So what are we going to do about it?” Monbiot writes: Raworth points out that economics in the 20th century “lost the desire to articulate its goals”. It aspired to be a science of human behaviour: a science based on a deeply flawed portrait of humanity. The dominant model – “rational economic man”, self-interested, isolated, calculating – says more about the nature of economists than it does about other humans. The loss of an explicit objective allowed the discipline to be captured by a proxy goal: endless growth. In her book, Raworth emphasizes that economics should provide a model that doesn’t require growth in order to meet “the needs of all within the means of the planet.” And, she offers one. As Monbiot points out, we have a messy situation where power rests in the hands of a few who really don’t seem terribly concerned to acknowledge the planet’s limits, or, therefore, the limits to economic growth, so mustering political might not be so easy. Here’s how our current economic system works, in a nutshell, according to Monbiot: The central image in mainstream economics is the circular flow diagram. It depicts a closed flow of income cycling between households, businesses, banks, government and trade, operating in a social and ecological vacuum. Energy, materials, the natural world, human society, power, the wealth we hold in common … all are missing from the model. The unpaid work of carers – principally women – is ignored, though no economy could function without them. Like rational economic man, this representation of economic activity bears little relationship to reality. Raworth’s model “embeds” economics into existing natural and social systems, “showing how it depends on the flow of materials and energy , and reminding us that we are more than just workers, consumers and owners of capital.” Again from Monbiot, writing for The Guardian : The diagram consists of two rings. The inner ring of the doughnut represents a sufficiency of the resources we need to lead a good life: food, clean water, housing, sanitation, energy, education, healthcare, democracy. Anyone living within that ring, in the hole in the middle of the doughnut, is in a state of deprivation. The outer ring of the doughnut consists of the Earth’s environmental limits, beyond which we inflict dangerous levels of climate change, ozone depletion, water pollution, loss of species and other assaults on the living world. The area between the two rings – the doughnut itself – is the “ecologically safe and socially just space” in which humanity should strive to live. The purpose of economics should be to help us enter that space and stay there. It’s hard to understate how exciting this revelation is for those of us thinking of a way out of our current predicament. We need an economic system that works with the Earth, instead of against it, to provide for all of us – rather than too much for too few. Images via George Monbiot, Kate Raworth, Pixabay

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Doughnut Economics: the long-sought alternative to endless growth

7,000 methane gas bubbles in Siberia on the verge of exploding

March 22, 2017 by  
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Last summer researchers revealed crazy bubbling tundra in Siberia in a surreal video. Scientists believe the weird phenomenon is caused by methane released by melting permafrost . Now around 7,000 of those bubbles are getting ready to explode. The bursts could result in small potholes – or large craters . Researchers uncovered 15 bubbles causing the ground to lurch like a waterbed on Bely Island in Siberia last summer. Then scientists found around 7,000 more bubbles on the Gydan and Yamal peninsulas. Yamal Department for Science and Innovation director Alexey Titovsky recently told The Siberian Times, “With time the bubble explodes, releasing gas. This is how gigantic funnels form.” Related: Insane video shows Siberian ground bubbling like a “wobbling waterbed” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06Xc3LtZRWo Scientists think the mysterious craters – or funnels – are connected to climate change . They think when permafrost melts, it releases methane, which causes eruptions that then result in craters. That’s the theory, anyway – Titovsky said they’re continuing to research the bubbles. He told The Siberian Times, “We need to know which bumps are dangerous and which are not. Scientists are working on detecting and structuring signs of potential threat, like the maximum height of a bump and pressure that the earth can withstand.” According to The Siberian Times, scientists are making a map of Yamal’s underground gas bubbles, which could threaten infrastructure and transport in what the publication described as a key energy production region. The Russian Academy of Science’s Ural branch also connected thawing permafrost with the phenomenon. A spokesperson told The Siberian Times of the bubbles, “Their appearance at such high latitudes is most likely linked to thawing permafrost which is in turn linked to overall rise of temperature on the north of Eurasia during the last several decades. An abnormally warm summer in 2016 on the Yamal peninsula must have added to the process.” Researchers Dorothee Ehrich and Alexander Sokolov punctured one of the 15 bubbles found last year, and found the air escaping from the bumps included 20 times more carbon dioxide and 200 times more methane than nearby air, according to EcoWatch. Via EcoWatch and The Siberian Times Images via screenshot ( 1 , 2 )

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7,000 methane gas bubbles in Siberia on the verge of exploding

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