Oil giants are waking up to carbon bubble risks

March 15, 2017 by  
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Statoil releases a “climate roadmap” as Shell warns that public faith in fossil fuel industry is disappearing.

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Oil giants are waking up to carbon bubble risks

Scientists discover immense pool of molten carbon beneath the Western United States

February 15, 2017 by  
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In what could be some of the worst news for climate change since the election of Donald Trump , a group of scientists have discovered a massive reservoir of melting carbon hidden deep under the Western United States. Researchers used the world’s largest array of seismic sensors to map the reservoir, which covers an area of about 695,000 square miles and challenges everything scientists have previously thought about the amounts of carbon trapped inside the Earth. To make a long story short, there’s way more than anyone has ever predicted before. Located about 217 miles beneath the planet’s surface, the reservoir is made up of carbonates that are melting under temperatures as hot at 7,230 degrees Fahrenheit. According to Science Daily , carbonates are a large group of minerals – including magnesite and calcite – which contain a specific carbon ion that when molten is believed to be responsible for the electrical conductivity of the Earth’s mantle . While it’s too deep underground to physically study, a research team from the Royal Holloway University of London employed a wide-ranging network made up of 583 seismic sensors to conduct their study. Those sensors honed in on some strange vibrations in the upper mantle, which in turn identified this immense pool of molten carbon. Based on what these sensors have told them, the researchers believe the Earth’s upper mantle might hold as much as 110 trillion tons of melted carbon. “Under the western US is a huge underground partially-molten reservoir of liquid carbonate,” explains team member, Sash Hier-Majumder. “It is a result of one of the tectonic plates of the Pacific Ocean forced underneath the western US, undergoing partial melting, thanks to gasses like carbon dioxide and water contained in the minerals dissolved in it.” It turns out this carbon is a bit of sleeping giant, as the scientists say this it will make its way out of the deep recesses of the Earth slowly via volcanic eruptions. But that seepage will add to the significant amounts of greenhouse gasses humans are adding to the planet’s atmosphere and contribute to climate change. Related: Scientists hatch crazy $500 billion plan to refreeze the Arctic “We might not think of the deep structure of Earth as linked to climate change above us, but this discovery not only has implications for subterranean mapping, but also for our future atmosphere ,” Hier-Majumder explains. “For example, releasing only 1% of this CO 2 into the atmosphere will be the equivalent of burning 2.3 trillion barrels of oil. The existence of such deep reservoirs show how important is the role of deep Earth in the global carbon cycle.” Via Science Daily Images via gunckx , Flickr Creative Commons and Pixabay

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Scientists discover immense pool of molten carbon beneath the Western United States

The self-contained mobile prefab Coodo lets you live almost anywhere in the world

February 15, 2017 by  
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What if you could make your home anywhere in the world without sacrificing creature comforts? Meet Coodo , an eco-friendly mobile home that promises just that with its flexible and modern modular design. Created in Germany, Coodo can pop up almost anywhere in the world – from urban rooftops to remote beaches – and it can be easily relocated to give you the freedom to travel with the comforts of home. Designed by LTG Lofts to go GmbH and Co. KG, Coodo is a mobile prefabricated house that can be quickly and easily installed with minimal impact on the building site and environment. The company offers a variety of Coodo models ranging in sizes from 36 to 96 square meters and usage type, such as the saunacoodo and watercoodo, which functions as a houseboat . Depending on the model selected, loading and unloading can take anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours. The Coodo is transported by flat bed truck and craned into place. All models boast a minimal and modern design that can be customized to the owner’s needs. In addition to the desire to provide freedom of travel to the homeowner, the company is also committed to minimizing the mobile home’s environmental impact. According to their website, all units consist of “low-pollutant, ecologically compatible, and mostly natural materials.” All condo houses are designed with passive house principles for energy efficiency and the company is currently developing off-grid units. Triple-glazed full-height windows and high-tech insulation wrap the rounded steel-framed modules and overlook an outdoor shaded deck built from recycled planking. A built-in micro-filtered ventilation and air moisture system ensures clean and dust-free indoor air. Almost all electrical devices will be connected to a wireless smart system so that they can be controlled remotely via smartphone. Related: Solar-powered Ecocapsule lets you live off-the-grid anywhere in the world “We want to lead by example by having a great impact on society and proving that high ecological and sustainable standards do not stand in opposition to equally high standards for design and comfort, but can work in harmony through innovation“, said Mark Dare Schmiedel, CEO of LTG. Prices are not listed on the website and are dependent on module type and interior options, which can be delivered as a shell, with basic interior, or fully equipped. + Coodo

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The self-contained mobile prefab Coodo lets you live almost anywhere in the world

Data busts the myth of cheap fossil fuels

February 7, 2017 by  
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A new Carbon Tracker Initiative study finds that renewable energy is more cost-effective than fossil fuels. Why isn’t the public catching on?

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Data busts the myth of cheap fossil fuels

Saharan oases struggle as climate change takes a toll

February 7, 2017 by  
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Local residents of North Africa’s Maghreb region employ traditional water conservation techniques as desert oases disappear.

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Saharan oases struggle as climate change takes a toll

Surprising new study shows deadly feedback loop of soil warming

January 17, 2017 by  
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Unexpectedly high carbon emissions from warming soil highlight the benefits of land restoration.

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Surprising new study shows deadly feedback loop of soil warming

MIT researchers unveil ultralight material 10 times stronger than steel

January 10, 2017 by  
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Researchers at MIT have found a way to make one of the world’s strongest materials even stronger . Graphene, a two-dimensional form of carbon that gets its strength from a unique honeycomb structure, was made even more durable by compressing and fusing it into a 3D sponge-like configuration. The ultralight material has a density of just five percent, but could be as much as 10 times stronger than steel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIcZdc42F0g A two-dimensional sheet of graphene measures one atom in thickness but is known as one of the strongest materials in the world. Using a combination of heat and pressure, a team of MIT researchers led by Markus Buehler, head of MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), was able to produce an even stronger version which resembles the form of some corals and microscopic creatures called diatoms, both of which have enormous surface area by volume but are lightweight due to their porous structure. Similarly, the 3D form of graphene has shown to be even stronger than its two-dimensional form. Related: New graphene super batteries charge up in seconds and last virtually forever “Once we created these 3D structures, we wanted to see what’s the limit—what’s the strongest possible material we can produce,” said Zhao Qin, a CEE research scientist and one of the study’s co-authors. “One of our samples has five percent the density of steel, but 10 times the strength.” The potential applications for graphene are nearly endless. The super-strong, lightweight material can be used in ultra-fast charging supercapacitors to create batteries that last essentially forever, can improve the energy efficiency of desalination processes , and can even help solar panels convert more energy into usable electricity. Graphene is very expensive, though, so researchers are continuing to work on ways to enhance its value by bolstering its strength. The research results were published this week in the journal Science Advances. Via MIT Images via Melanie Gonick/MIT and Zhao Qin

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Holiday Shopping: Is Online or In Person Better for the Earth?

December 6, 2016 by  
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It’s the season of giving, but all of that consumerism can mean taking something from the environment. Those who want to minimize their carbon footprints without turning into Scrooge may be wondering what style of shopping is best for the earth:…

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Holiday Shopping: Is Online or In Person Better for the Earth?

A catastrophic climate feedback loop long feared by scientists is happening

December 1, 2016 by  
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For years environmental scientists have warned of a catastrophic climate “feedback loop” that could pump a massive underground repository of carbon and methane into the atmosphere, significantly worsening climate change. A new study published this week confirms that fear is finally coming to pass. Rising temperatures are causing microorganisms in the soil to breathe more quickly, which releases an increased amount of carbon dioxide or methane into the atmosphere. Global warming has become so serious that greenhouse gasses are simply rising out of the ground beneath our feet worldwide. Most people don’t realize that the planet’s soil is packed with a dense network of trapped carbon, created by plants and roots that have been buried over the eons. These plants pull in carbon from the air to use as fuel, and when they die, the carbon remains within the soil. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a problem: it serves as a natural carbon sink which helps regulate the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. Related: Plants are keeping atmospheric carbon levels stable, but it won’t last forever Unfortunately, rising temperatures affect microorganisms living in the soil, naturally increasing their rate of respiration – and thus the rate at which greenhouse gasses are released. The worst part is that this is not a small, insignificant amount of carbon. It’s expected that by the year 2050, this natural process could release an additional 55 billion tons of carbon into the air. The authors of the new study describe that as the same impact as “having an extra US on the planet.” This means that we now face a much shorter timeline to cut human greenhouse gas emissions – and that, despite our best efforts, we may not actually be able to limit global temperature rise within bounds that would limit the worst effects. If we exceed less than 1,000 billion tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, global temperatures could blow past 2 degrees Celsius , shattering the widely-held target of most climate scientists and environmental organizations. Related: Study Warns Methane from Melting Arctic Permafrost is ‘Certain to Trigger Additional Warming’ Unless strong action is taken immediately to limit emissions from all human sources, we could very easily exceed our planetary “carbon budget.” This study shows that it’s now more important than ever to put pressure on corporations and politicians to limit their emissions immediately. Via The Washington Post Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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A catastrophic climate feedback loop long feared by scientists is happening

Scientists figured out how to make water freeze at boiling temperatures

November 30, 2016 by  
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When water, in its liquid form, is confined within carbon nanotubes, it takes on some amazing new properties. Researchers at MIT have discovered that water trapped inside carbon nanotubes can actually freeze at the high temperatures that would normally bring it to a rolling boil . Previous research has long shown that the boiling and freezing points of water change when it is confined to small spaces, but those temperature variations usually hover around 10C. The introduction of carbon nanotubes has changed the game significantly. Carbon nanotubes are tube-like structures with a diameter measured in nanometers, which are equal to one-billionth of a meter or about 10,000 times smaller than a human hair. The carbon nanotubes used during the MIT experiments were just slightly larger in diameter than the width of a few water molecules. Because water confined within the carbon nanotubes can take on a solid frozen state at a much higher temperature than in other vessels, the discovery could lead to inventions such as ice-filled wires, which could exist at room temperature. Related: MIT uses carbon nanotubes to boost lithium battery power 10x In order to better understand how water molecules behave when trapped in such small spaces, the research team used carbon nanotubes of different diameters, noting that even a tiny fraction of difference in size translated into different phase change temperature points. Nanotubes ranging from 1.05 nanometers to 1.06 nanometers resulted in a difference of tens of degrees around the apparent freezing point, something that surprised the research team. Michael Strano, the Carbon P. Dubbs Professor in Chemical Engineering at MIT, is one of five contributing authors on the research . “If you confine a fluid to a nanocavity, you can actually distort its phase behavior,” he said. “The effect is much greater than anyone had anticipated.” The research was recently published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. Via New Atlas Images via Cloudzilla/Flickr and MIT

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