Tipping points accelerated climate change in the last Ice Age, new research shows

June 27, 2017 by  
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Could reaching environmental tipping points really impact the Earth’s climate all that much? New research from an international team of four scientists says yes. Their study is the first to show that in our planet’s past, gradual changes in carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations led to tipping points that then set off temperature spikes of as much as 10 degrees Celsius in only a few decades. Scientists led by Xu Zhang of the Alfred Wegener Institute were able to show how sudden changes in our climate, or Dansgaard-Oeschger events, came from CO2 concentrations that rose gradually. Researchers had known temperatures shot up thanks to Greenland ice core samples, but they weren’t sure why – and the new study provides some answers. Zhang said in a statement, “With this study, we’ve managed to show for the first time how gradual increases of CO2 triggered rapid warming .” Related: Scientists warn of uncontrollable climate change amid drastic Arctic melt The team drew on a climate model to find how interactions between the atmosphere and ocean currents led to the temperature spike of 10 degrees Celsius, or 18 degrees Fahrenheit, in Greenland during the last Ice Age, which ended around 11,700 years ago. Here’s how it works. Increased CO2 strengthened Central America trade winds, and the eastern Pacific Ocean warmed more than the western Atlantic Ocean. From there more moisture left the Atlantic, so the salinity and density of that ocean’s surface waters increased. These changes resulted in an abrupt amplification of the circulation pattern of the Atlantic, which according to Zhang can lead to sudden temperature increases. Will we see rapid changes if we hit tipping points today? Gerrit Lohmann of the institute and the University of Bremen said, “We can’t say for certain whether rising CO2 levels will produce similar effects in the future, because the framework conditions today differ from those in a glacial period. That being said, we’ve now confirmed that there have definitely been abrupt climate changes in the Earth’s past that were the result of continually rising CO2 concentrations.” The journal Nature Geoscience published the research online this month. Via the Alfred Wegener Institute and New Atlas Images via Coen Hofstede

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Tipping points accelerated climate change in the last Ice Age, new research shows

South Africas first Green Star museum is an eco-friendly literary treasure

June 27, 2017 by  
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One of South Africa’s literary treasures has transformed into an eco-friendly gem. Designed by Intsika Architects , the National English Literary Museum is the first five-star Green Star-certified Public & Education building in the country. Located in the university town of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, this eco-friendly museum meets impressive energy and water-saving targets, and also met social objectives through local job creation in construction. The 10,812-square-meter National English Literary Museum was completed in June 2016 for R145 million. Set with a park within a pedestrian-friendly area, the massive building is broken down into smaller elements, while selective massing responds to human scale. As a true community resource, the new library offers numerous public gathering spots and amenities such as a mini-theater, outdoor amphitheater , exhibition area, archives, library, and museum offices. Visual displays about the building’s sustainability initiatives teach visitors about the library’s water and energy savings, as well as green roof efficiency. To meet targets of reducing potable water consumption by more than 95% below benchmark, the library harvests and reuses rainwater from the roof for irrigation, toilet and urinal flushing; features xeriscaped indigenous landscaping to reduce irrigation needs; and installed water meters to monitor water consumption. Stormwater detention ponds capture and slowly release stormwater to prevent erosion in the river system. Daylighting is maximized indoors and a low-energy heat-recovery system provides cooling and heating simultaneously to different parts of the building. Where possible, materials were recycled and sourced locally, and include recycled rubber, recycled bamboo flooring, low-VOC paints, coconut mosaic wall cladding, and recycled plastic carpets. The green roof helps insulate the interior—the green-roofed archives tucked below ground don’t need air conditioning—and gabon walls and natural stone cladding used as thermal massing stabilize indoor temperatures. + Intsika Architects Images by Rob Duker

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South Africas first Green Star museum is an eco-friendly literary treasure

Could Our Stupidity Be Our Silver Lining?

December 20, 2009 by  
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With folks like this around, there’s plenty of low hanging fruit to tackle.

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Could Our Stupidity Be Our Silver Lining?

Voices from Hopenhagen: Al Gore

December 7, 2009 by  
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Image credit: Hopenhagen Editor’s note: This guest post was written by former Vice President Al Gore for the Hopenhagen movement. The world has arrived at a moment of decision. As long as we continue to depend on dirty fossil fuels like coal and oil to meet our energy needs, and dump 90 million tons of global warming pollution into the atmosphere, we move closer and closer to several dangerous tipping points—points which scientists have repeatedly warned would, if crossed, threaten to make it impossible for us to avoid irretrievable destruction of the conditions t…

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Voices from Hopenhagen: Al Gore

Mini Copenhagen Environmental Solutions Effort Takes Place in New York City Schools

December 7, 2009 by  
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Image credit: www.WordsThatShookTheWorld.com Editor’s Note: This post is written by Richard Greene an accomplished and recognized public speaker.

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Mini Copenhagen Environmental Solutions Effort Takes Place in New York City Schools

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