Why natural gas makes global warming worse

April 9, 2018 by  
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Hint: it has to do with methane, a greenhouse gas 84 times as potent as carbon dioxide.

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Why natural gas makes global warming worse

Thoreau’s Walden Pond is under threat from human activities

April 6, 2018 by  
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In his book first published as  Walden; or, Life in the Woods , transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau reflected on living simply in green spaces while cultivating self-sufficiency and carefully observing the natural world. His reflections were informed by his experiences living in a cabin near the edge of Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts . Today, Walden Pond remains a cherished local landmark, where people enjoy hiking and swimming. However, since Thoreau’s time, Walden Pond has suffered from climate change,  erosion  and even human pee. In the mid-1800s, Thoreau described the “crystalline purity” of the water in Walden Pond, a characteristic still observable today. However, that may soon change as the effects of climate change take hold. In  a recently published paper on the environmental health of Walden Pond , researchers concluded that major changes in the algal content of the lake began in the 20th century and continue to threaten it today. According to the paper, “The sediment darkening and high percentages of [ algae ] in the recent sediments of Walden Pond … indicate not only that the lake ecosystem is now quite different from that described by Thoreau but also that it may be primed for more severe reductions in water clarity in a warming future.” Related: Thresher sharks die in Massachusetts – likely due to cold shock As global temperatures continue to rise , more people looking for relief from the humid summer weather in Massachusetts may find their way into the pond for a refreshing dip. Researchers concluded that more than half of the phosphorous content in the pond “may now be attributable to urine released by swimmers.” The good news is that Walden Pond has seen its environmental health improve in recent decades. However, vigilance is necessary to preserve Walden for future generations. Via The Guardian Images via Ekabhishek , Terryballard and Cbaile19

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Thoreau’s Walden Pond is under threat from human activities

The world’s first space hotel could launch by 2022

April 6, 2018 by  
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We’ve all heard of the companies promising to launch humans on trips to space , but have you thought about where you will stay once you get there? Startup Orion Span thinks they have the answer – and they’re planning to launch a luxury space hotel into orbit in the next few years. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, start saving your pennies – a 12-night stay will set you back a mere $9.5 million PER PERSON. But don’t worry, the price includes transportation, food and drinks, and a three-month training course. The Aurora Station hotel will be able to accommodate four guests at a time, plus two crew members. The station will float above the Earth in low orbit (about 200 miles above the planet – 50 miles below the ISS) and the company claims it will be ready to start hosting guests by 2022. That’s extremely soon – keep in mind that other companies have set lofty goals for space hotels that didn’t quite get realized . The company plans to start with one station and expand as demand grows. If you want to book your stay right away, 80k will hold you a spot until the hotel is built and launched. Related: Elon Musk says trips to Mars coming as soon as next year Speaking of, Orion Span hasn’t provided much in the way of details for its space hotel. For instance, the company says it plans to manufacture the station at a Houston facility that hasn’t been built yet. Nor has it disclosed how it plans to transport people to the station – it seems likely that it will team up with one of the companies who is developing private space travel. Even still, it’s a pretty exciting idea, and not a bad price considering that it costs $81 million for an astronaut to hitch a ride to the ISS on a Russian rocket. Via Engadget Images via Orion Span

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The world’s first space hotel could launch by 2022

Developing nations want to dim the sun using a giant chemical sunshade

April 5, 2018 by  
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Scientists around the world want to create a giant sunshade in the sky to help reverse  climate change . “Solar engineering” involves spraying tiny reflective particles into the atmosphere to cool the Earth by reflecting and filtering incoming sunlight. The idea is controversial because no one knows what consequences we may suffer from altering the atmosphere, but some developing nations are ramping up research efforts and they want developed nations to do the same.  Poorer countries stand to suffer the most from climate change, and they argue that geoengineering may be less dangerous for them than the impacts of global warming. In a high-profile experiment, researchers at Harvard University have been studying what they’ve called the “stratospheric controlled perturbation effect” thanks to the launch of an observation balloon over ten miles into the air in order to study the effect of controlled sprays of water molecules on cloud cover reflectivity. Scientists from Bangladesh, Brazil , China, Ethiopia, India, Jamaica, and Thailand have now joined the debate in a new study published in Nature , arguing that if there is to be geoengineering, developing countries must lead the way. “ Solar geoengineering is outlandish and unsettling,” the scientists wrote. “It invokes technologies that are redolent of science fiction – jets lacing the stratosphere with sunlight-blocking particles, and fleets of ships spraying seawater into low-lying clouds to make them whiter and brighter to reflect sunlight. Yet, if such approaches could be realized technically and politically, they could slow, stop or even reverse the rise in global temperatures within one or two years.” Related: Scientists have a plan to cool the Earth with a sprinkle of salt The scientists do not approach geoengineering lightly. “The technique is controversial, and rightly so,” they wrote. “It is too early to know what its effects would be: it could be very helpful or very harmful. Developing countries have most to gain or lose. In our view, they must maintain their climate leadership and play a central part in research and discussions around solar geoengineering .” Lead author Atiq Rahman emphasized that the scientists are not taking a stand that geoengineering will necessarily work, only that it should be researched in collaboration with those most affected by climate change. “Developing countries must be in a position to make up their own minds. Local scientists, in collaboration with others, need to conduct research that is sensitive to regional concerns and conditions,” the authors wrote. “Clearly [geoengineering] could be dangerous, but we need to know whether, for countries like Bangladesh , it would be more or less risky than passing the 1.5C warming goal,” Rahman said. “This matters greatly to people from developing countries and our voices need to be heard.” Via The Guardian Images via NASA/ISS and Depositphotos  ( 2 )

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Developing nations want to dim the sun using a giant chemical sunshade

Load up on Tabasco while you can – because the island it comes from is being swallowed by the sea

April 4, 2018 by  
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If your idea of the perfect Bloody Mary involves a dash of Tabasco, better stock up while you can. Over one hundred miles west of New Orleans , Avery Island, the birthplace of Tabasco sauce, is disappearing as its land slowly washes away with the sea. As with much of the American Gulf Coast, Avery Island is plagued by rising sea levels, erosion, and human-caused environmental damage. Despite Avery Island’s relatively high elevation at 163 feet above sea level, the island is losing 30 feet of wetland per year due to saltwater encroaching via canals dug by the oil and gas industry. Meanwhile, the island’s elevation is shrinking by a third-of-an-inch each year. Tony Simmons is the latest in a long line of McIlhenny family members to lead the company that has produced Tabasco sauce for 150 years. Simmons’s ancestor Edmund McIlhenny first began making Tabasco sauce after discovering a particularly well-suited pepper plant growing behind a chicken coop on Avery Island, a long-time refuge now retreating. “It does worry us, and we are working hard to minimize the land loss,” Simmons told the Guardian . “We want to protect the marsh because the marsh protects us.” Related: This Louisiana craft beer pioneer ‘went green’ long before it was cool Technically, Tabasco isn’t going anywhere. If Avery Island continues to shrink, McIllhenny may someday have to consider relocating away from its historic homeland. “We don’t think it will come to that, but we are working to do everything we can to make sure it won’t happen to us,” said Simmons. “I mean, we could make Tabasco somewhere else. But this is more than a business: this is our home.” If the island experiences an additional sea level rise of two feet, which is widely expected to occur, only the highest points of the island will be safe. Despite the resilience of the people who live there, the future of Avery Island and similar communities in Louisiana looks stormy. “It is a ripped-up rug. It would take decades to put it back together, even without sea level rise ,” Oliver Houck, an expert in land loss at Tulane University, explained to the Guardian . “Avery Island is going to become an actual island, there won’t be much left. The state has decided to put all its eggs into restoring the eastern part of the state. I hate to use the words ‘written off’, but those coastal communities are on their own.” Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos ( 2 ) and Paul Arps/Flickr

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Load up on Tabasco while you can – because the island it comes from is being swallowed by the sea

69% of Republicans believe global warmings seriousness is generally exaggerated

April 3, 2018 by  
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Have people changed their minds about global warming after President Donald Trump, infamous for his climate change denial, has spent a year in office? Gallup conducted their annual survey regarding the environment in early March, finding  that Americans’ thoughts on the topic “have increasingly become politically polarized” — and  Trump might have contributed to the divide. In 2017, 66 percent of Republicans thought “the seriousness of global warming is generally exaggerated.” In 2018, that number is now up to 69 percent. In contrast, four percent of Democrats think global warming is exaggerated, down from 10 percent last year. This is just one of Gallup’s findings — they said Americans’ concerns on the topic aren’t that different from last year, but some partisan views have shifted. They conducted telephone interviews between March 1 and 8 “with a random sample of 1,041 adults” residing in Washington, D.C. and all 50 states. Related: Despite Trump’s rhetoric, US officials are still working to stop climate change Is Trump to blame for the divide? Gallup said he may have contributed “by reversing a number of government actions to address the issue.” The announcement to pull America out of the Paris Agreement is perhaps the most notorious example; others include “the removal of climate change from the list of top U.S. national security threats and the elimination of the terms ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ from U.S. government websites and lexicons,” according to Gallup. 66 percent of Americans would “say most scientists believe global warming is occurring;” 64 percent say human activities caused the dilemma. These numbers fell a little from those in 2017; Gallup pinned that phenomenon on increased political polarization during the last year. Not all the numbers have dipped — 45 percent of Americans in 2018 “think global warming will pose a serious threat in their lifetime,” up from 42 percent in 2017. Gallup said the bottom line is that Americans’ higher level of concern over global warming, shown since 2016, remains largely intact. + Gallup News Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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69% of Republicans believe global warmings seriousness is generally exaggerated

Climate action depends on cities and companies

April 3, 2018 by  
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Presidents and prime ministers have limited policy control over national carbon footprints. Subnational entities can prove that “We Are Still In.”

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Climate action depends on cities and companies

How to make solar+storage projects work for low-income communities

April 3, 2018 by  
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Alternatives models of financing and ownership are imperative. Here are some ideas for new ones.

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How to make solar+storage projects work for low-income communities

Astronomers spot the most distant star ever seen 9 billion light-years away

April 2, 2018 by  
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The Environmental Protection Agency is poised to undo Obama -era greenhouse gas emission regulations and fuel economy standards that were designed to encourage the development of cleaner, more efficient vehicles. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt will likely describe the move as lifting burdensome regulations on automakers to support the production of cheaper vehicles, but it doesn’t account for the costs of increased air pollution and continued climate change. Left in place, the rules would have reduced oil consumption by about 12 billion barrels while reducing carbon dioxide pollution by about six billion tons over the lifetime of vehicles produced under the regulations. The rules that are set to be rolled back under the Trump Administration were created in 2012 as one of President Obama’s major initiatives to combat climate change . If allowed to be fully implemented, the rules would have required automakers to nearly double the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Some worry that the United States ‘s decision to step away from stricter emissions standards could set a dangerous precedent around the world. “The concern is that automakers will go around the world basically trying to lobby regulators, saying, look, because the United States has reduced the pace, everywhere else should too,” Anup Bandivadekar, a researcher at the International Council on Clean Transportation, told the New York Times . Related: Congress rejects Trump’s renewable energy budget cuts While American automakers had initially lobbied the Trump Administration for more relaxed standards, they did not expect to see a complete repeal of the rules. “We didn’t ask for that,” claimed Robert Bienenfeld , assistant vice president for environment and energy strategy at American Honda Motor. “The position we outlined was sensible.” In a blog post, Ford Motor Company chairman Bill Ford and CEO Jim Hackett wrote that “we support increasing clean car standards through 2025 and are not asking for a rollback.” The relaxed standards proposed by automakers were viewed as less likely to cause a showdown with California and the dozen other states that follow its lead on strict environmental standards. Now, California is preparing for battle. “We’re going to defend first and foremost existing federal greenhouse gas standards,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told the New York Times . “We’re defending them because they’re good for the entire nation. No one should think it’s easy to undo something that’s been not just good for the country, but good for the planet .” Via the New York Times Images via Depositphotos and the White House

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Astronomers spot the most distant star ever seen 9 billion light-years away

EPA set to repeal Obama-era rules for cleaner cars

April 2, 2018 by  
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The Environmental Protection Agency is poised to undo Obama -era greenhouse gas emission regulations and fuel economy standards that were designed to encourage the development of cleaner, more efficient vehicles. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt will likely describe the move as a necessary lifting of burdensome regulations on automakers and to support the production of cheaper vehicles, but it doesn’t account for the costs of increased air pollution and continued climate change. Left in place, the rules would have reduced oil consumption by about 12 billion barrels while reducing carbon dioxide pollution by about six billion tons over the lifetime of vehicles produced under the regulations. The rules that are set to be rolled back under the Trump Administration were created in 2012 as one of President Obama’s major initiatives to combat climate change . If allowed to be fully implemented, the rules would have required automakers to nearly double the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Some worry that the United States ‘s decision to step away from stricter emissions standards could set a dangerous precedent around the world. “The concern is that automakers will go around the world basically trying to lobby regulators, saying, look, because the United States has reduced the pace, everywhere else should too,” Anup Bandivadekar, a researcher at the International Council on Clean Transportation, told the New York Times . Related: Congress rejects Trump’s renewable energy budget cuts While American automakers had initially lobbied the Trump Administration for more relaxed standards, they did not expect to see a complete repeal of the rules. “We didn’t ask for that,” claimed Robert Bienenfeld , assistant vice president for environment and energy strategy at American Honda Motor. “The position we outlined was sensible.” In a blog post, Ford Motor Company chairman Bill Ford and CEO Jim Hackett wrote that “we support increasing clean car standards through 2025 and are not asking for a rollback.” The relaxed standards proposed by automakers were viewed as less likely to cause a showdown with California and the dozen other states that follow its lead on strict environmental standards. Now, California is preparing for battle. “We’re going to defend first and foremost existing federal greenhouse gas standards,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told the New York Times . “We’re defending them because they’re good for the entire nation. No one should think it’s easy to undo something that’s been not just good for the country, but good for the planet .” Via the New York Times Images via Depositphotos  and the White House

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EPA set to repeal Obama-era rules for cleaner cars

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