By Alex Shimo - Friday, March 13, 2009 - 27 Comments
A growing number of people think the risk of climate change is exaggerated, according…
A growing number of people think the risk of climate change is exaggerated, according to a Gallop poll. About 4 out of 10 Americans think the media overestimate the threat, the highest in a decade of polling. Although the majority still believe the media get it right or underestimate the problem, this number has been falling, while those who think its overblown is rising.
What’s ironic about these stats is that they almost directly precede a statement by hundreds scientists that climate change is actually worse than we originally thought. Meeting in Copenhagen on Thursday, nearly 2,000 researchers issued a statement that global warming is not only “accelerating” beyond the worse predictions, but the changes were threatening to trigger “irreversible” climate shifts on the planet.” These statements, which update the the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, offer stark forecasts. The panel previously predicted a sea level rise of 18 to 59 centimetres by the end of the century. Those figures have now been revised upwards, to between 50 centimetres to one metre. When a consensus of international scientists warns that the problem is worse than predicted, the media doesn’t need to exaggerate: accepting the facts is hard enough.
By Alex Shimo - Tuesday, March 10, 2009 at 8:12 PM - 12 Comments
Ford Motor Co. has asked the Canadian government to provide a $3,500 incentive to…
Ford Motor Co. has asked the Canadian government to provide a $3,500 incentive to consumers who buy a new car in 2009. The initiative is supposed to stimulate the flagging auto-industry, and get older vehicles off the road. Ford CEO David Mondragon said they would be replaced by cleaner and safer vehicles.
The scheme has been sold as a win-win: good for the environment and economy. Based on the German model, it will likely stimulate the car industry – in Germany, car sales are up 22 per cent from the year before, and are at their highest level in 10 years. The scheme is so successful that many other countries are thinking of implementing something similar - Britain says a cash incentive scheme is on the horizon, and France, Italy and Spain all offer a similar cash for clunkers program. In the US, a similar proposal didn’t make it into the stimulus package, but has strong support from many in Congress.
The European experience suggests the program is good for job creation. Whether it’s good for the environment is another matter. While emissions of newer cars are lower than older cars – they aren’t that much lower. Between 1987 – 2005, fuel efficiency improved by 24 per cent. Which adds up to an approximate improvement of 1.3 per cent per year, depending on the age of your car. When you factor in the carbon cost of producing a new car, you can see that it’s only going to make a real difference to your vehicle emissions if you have a very old clunker and you buy a very clean, green car. The problem is the people who own clunkers are generally not about to buy a brand new vehicle, even with the incentive. If you have a rust bucket, it’s most likely because you are cash-constrained, and government cash will only take you so far. Considering all these factors, many greenies say this isn’t really going to help the environment much at all. One worked out the cost of the incentive, and said you’d get as much value for money by reclassifying dollar bills as biomass and burning them in power stations. Would that be green power? One can only guess.
By Alex Shimo - Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 12:32 PM - 4 Comments
The Oscar-winning Coen Brothers recently produced this ad, ridiculing the term “clean coal.” It’s…
The Oscar-winning Coen Brothers recently produced this ad, ridiculing the term “clean coal.” It’s amusing, but doesn’t give much substantive critique. In reality, the coal industry has done much to clean up its nitrogen and sulphur emissions, which our big acid rain problem in the 1970s, 80s and early 90s. Emissions of these pollutants are down 70 per cent, which is what the coal industry means when it says the fuel is “70 per cent cleaner.” The industry hasn’t done much to lessen its carbon emissions to date, mostly because the technology isn’t there yet. Perhaps in the future, the excess CO2 will be separated into carbon and oxygen, or piped underground (both options currently being researched), but the technology is going to need decades of research and massive investment. Plans to build the US’s first CO2 storage coal-fired plant were abandoned last year, as the $1.8 billion FutureGen project in eastern Illinois ran into serious cost overruns. Coal is considered so bad for global warming that even nuclear power, once derided by the greenies, is now considered cleaner than the fossil fuel. Nuclear energy has its problems, with storage of waste and security issues, according to Steven Chu, the Nobel-prize winning new energy secretary. Yet “the safety is better and will continue to get better, and nuclear power is far better for climate than coal.”
By Alex Shimo - Friday, February 27, 2009 at 2:35 PM - 8 Comments
The weekly announcements of yet another new nuclear plant in the works suggest an…
The weekly announcements of yet another new nuclear plant in the works suggest an industry gaining credibility after years of environmental backlash and NIMBYism. The province of Ontario says it will build two nuclear reactors at the Darlington generating station east of Toronto. Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall says his province will be “the Saudi Arabia of uranium for the world”, hopefully without that country’s security concerns. In Manitoba, the town of Pinawa, Man., 180 km northeast of Winnipeg, is in discussions with Atomic Energy of Canada to put a nuclear lab in the town. The site used to have a functioning plant in the 1960s, but it was closed in 1998.
Many Canadian environmental groups, from the Pembina Institute to Greenpeace Canada, has firmly come out against this rise in nuclear power. And while the problems of nuclear power are well known – managing the waste, contamination and the inevitable accidents, there has been a shift in public perception, especially in countries with much stricter carbon dioxide targets than Canada. Indeed, many prominent greens have come out in favour of nuclear energy as an unfortunate, but necessary evil. Stephen Tindale, former director of Greenpeace UK, says he has had an about face, almost like a religious conversion, and now embraces nuclear energy as the only way to solve climate change. George Monbiot, author of Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning, has also had a change of heart, and now says that nuclear power is “less threatening” than climate change.
Of course, neither solution sounds particularly welcoming – it’s hard to say whether frying later is preferable to living on top of a contaminated nuclear site. However, if nuclear power really is the only way to stop the planet’s meltdown, perhaps this nuclear renaissance should be embraced.
By Alex Shimo - Monday, February 23, 2009 at 5:12 PM - 22 Comments
Canada described as one of the two top “profligate energy users on the planet”
A biting article from the Economist magazine on Canada’s green policies, published here. The author highlights several ways that we have been lax on the environment, saying Canada is one of the two top “profligate energy users on the planet,” yet it has spent “little time over the last eight years” discussing what we might do “to combat climate change and the environment.”
On a discussion of our “dirty oil”, it discusses how we have been fighting for an exemption from a 2007 rule that bars the American government from buying fuels that produce too much carbon dioxide, or at least more than produced by conventional sources. The Energy Independence and Security Act, was signed into law in December 2008 by President Bush, and it puts the oil ssands at a disadvantage compared to easy-to-harvest oil from the wellhead. Continue…
By Alex Shimo - Wednesday, February 18, 2009 at 5:58 PM - 16 Comments
An excellent article here from Business Week on carbon sequestration. Many consider the technology…
An excellent article here from Business Week on carbon sequestration. Many consider the technology essential, if not a much-needed saviour for our warming planet. According to Emerging Energy Research (EER), it could offset our carbon dioxide emissions by 15 per cent by 2030. Indeed Alberta’s plans – a 14 per cent cut of emissions levels by 2050 from their 2005 levels – relies on this technology to be up and working quickly – in the next 5-10 years.
What’s needed to kick start the technology is a massive investment of funds, according to the EER. At the moment, the biggest investors are the EU, with $11.6 billion in research, then the US at $6 billion, then Canada at $2.7 billion. Much of the investment has been done by the oil companies themselves, but governments are also heavy investors. Last July, Stelmach announced a $2 billion fund for the new technology. And this week, Obama signed onto $3.4 billion for carbon capture and sequestration projects.
Still, for carbon sequestration to really deliver, it’s going to take massive investments – $30 to $70 billion per year by 2030, according to the EER. Of course, oil and gas companies are already heavily committed and are the key players in this developing industry. There are huge profits to be made in carbon sequestration, especially if there is a market on carbon dioxide gas, when companies will be able to trade the right to pollute. What’s needed now is a cap and trade system so companies know that any investments they make will have definite payoffs, beyond helping the planet. Obama has pledged to make this a reality in his presidency, and it cannot come quickly enough.
By Alex Shimo - Tuesday, February 17, 2009 at 5:58 PM - 3 Comments
The blame over the tragic bush fires in Australia has a new target: environmentalists…
The blame over the tragic bush fires in Australia has a new target: environmentalists and green policies. Some experts say more prohibitions on logging and burning worsened the fires that have claimed the lives of at least 200 people. Prescribed burning creates a natural break that stops the flames from spreading, yet in recent years, it has sharply decreased in favour of greening the natural urban environments. With the exception of Western Australia, all of the nation’s six state governments have reduced heir forest burning programs since the 1980s, according to Phil Cheney, a retired chief scientist from the Bushfire Research Unit of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. In some areas, there are strict laws on cutting down trees around one’s property, and residents now say this put their houses at risk. In a heated exchange, a Victoria resident, Warwick Spooner, blamed local councilors for the deaths of his mother and brother, who had died in the home in the blaze.
By Alex Shimo - Tuesday, February 17, 2009 at 5:05 PM - 0 Comments
Obama just signed his $767 billion dollar stimulus, and whether it helps the US…
Obama just signed his $767 billion dollar stimulus, and whether it helps the US economy or multiplies its financial woes, it’s hard to find an environmentalist who doesn’t sing its praises. In total, $60 billion, or about 8 per cent, is devoted to causes like energy efficiency and clean tech. A total of $8 billion is going towards high-speed rail links. [And according to Politico.com, Obama will outline another billion for high-speed rail in his budget next week.] The Department of Defense is supposed to get $3.6 billion to pay for energy efficiency projects and facilities upgrades.
Here’s how the green stimulus breaks down, (courtesy of the Natural Resources Defense Council)
$6 billion for clean and safe water
$4.5 billion for greening federal buildings
$2.5 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy Research and Development
$5 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program
$6 billion in loan guarantees for renewables, transmission and leading edge biofuels
$2 billion for advanced batteries
$9.3 billion for intercity rail, including high-speed rail
$27.5 billion for highways (this large pot of money is not exclusively for highways, and states and cities must use this flexibility to invest in fuel-efficient public transportation)
$8.4 billion for transit
$1.5 billion in competitive grants for transportation investments (which could be used for public transportation)
The full conference report is available here.
By Alex Shimo - Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 7:04 PM - 0 Comments
Google is developing a web tracking service that would analyze our power consumption in…
Google is developing a web tracking service that would analyze our power consumption in real time. It would break down electricity use by individual appliances, and tell customers the most efficient time to use them. The software is in the early stages of development – Google is in talks with industry leaders. A program manager at Google.org, Kirsten Olsen Cahill, told the New York Times that the project is too big to go it alone, and needs the co-operation from utility and manufacturing companies to get the personal information on energy use.
Studies have shown that when people are given detailed information about their power use, they reduce their electricity by 5-15 percent. At the moment, Google is testing the software on its employees.
By Alex Shimo - Monday, February 9, 2009 at 7:14 PM - 15 Comments
Australia may be the most fire-prone continent on earth, but scientists say the ferocity…
Australia may be the most fire-prone continent on earth, but scientists say the ferocity of the recent forest fires is likely linked to climate change. The temperature has been rising steadily since the 1950s, and is expected to increase by 3 degrees Celcius by 2050. Scientists say the hot, dry conditions will worsen the intensity and frequency of wildfires. This week’s blazes occurred after a record heatwave and hot, dry winds in southern Victoria state. The fires have swept nearly 200,000 hectares. At least 170 people have been killed in the disaster, and more than 3,000 people have been displaced. Continue…
By Alex Shimo - Tuesday, February 3, 2009 at 7:14 PM - 11 Comments
No one argues that the cost of tackling climate change is going to come…
No one argues that the cost of tackling climate change is going to come cheap, but a number of recent reports have put an exact price tag on it. And this global problem is about as expensive as they come. If you want to keep the planet cool, and stabilize the amount of carbon dioxide at 450 parts per million (ppm), which was the target set by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that will cost $542 billion US per year, every year till 2030, according to the World Energy Outlook (WEO). The EU estimates that it about half that cost, or about $224 billion US per year. A research group called New Energy Finance sides with the WEO, putting the price tag at $515 billion US dollars a year.
The discrepancies between these two estimates depend on how quickly you think renewable energies are going to improve and the cost will decrease. (The cost of renewable energy will certainly fall: solar power has fallen greatly in price as the technology has improved.) But can it come down quickly enough? Suppose you’re an optimist and low ball the cost, like the bureaucrats at the EU, then the cost of reducing emissions to tackle climate change is mere $224 billion US per year, or $276 billion CAD. That’s $276 billion each year for the next 20 years. Which makes one wonder, where is all this money going to come from?
By Alex Shimo - Tuesday, February 3, 2009 at 10:07 AM - 1 Comment
A new study says it may be more environmentally friendly to get your food…
A new study says it may be more environmentally friendly to get your food delivered rather than driving to the local farmer’s market. Published in the journal Food Policy, it compares the carbon emissions from a delivery service versus driving to the market yourself. Researchers from the University of Exeter say a delivery service cuts down on emissions because they deliver to multiple addresses all in one trip.
By Alex Shimo - Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 6:28 PM - 41 Comments
Climate change is essentially irreversible, according to a sobering study from the National Oceanic…
Climate change is essentially irreversible, according to a sobering study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Once the ocean has heated up, it will warm the planet for thousands of years, according to lead author Susan Solomon. If carbon dioxide is allowed to peak at 450-600 parts per million, it will take millenia for the excess CO2 to dissipate, according to Solomon, with NOAA. The current level of carbon dioxide is 385 parts per million. Currently the oceans are absorbing the excess heat and carbon dioxide, but they will reach a saturation point, according to the study.
Ms. Soloman says the permanence of the predicted changes is not a reason to do very little, but a reason to take immediate action right now.
“If it’s irreversible, it seems all the more reason to do something about it,” she told NPR.
By Alex Shimo - Monday, January 26, 2009 at 10:36 AM - 4 Comments
The number of low-oxygen areas in the world’s oceans where little life can survive…
The number of low-oxygen areas in the world’s oceans where little life can survive is set to greatly multiply with global warming, according to a study by two Danish researchers. In a study published online by the journal Nature Geoscience, scientists built a computer model to simulate climate change over the next 100,000 years. In the worst case scenario, CO2 concentrations would rise to 1,168 parts per million (ppm) by 2100, or about triple today’s level, and the ocean dead zones would increase by a factor of 10 or more. In the best case scenario, the CO2 would reach 549 ppm by 2100, or roughly 50 percent more than today. Dead zones – where complex organisms like fish, crustaceans and mammals cannot survive because of the lack of oxygen – would increase, but the damage would not be as great.
However, even if global warming is reversed by 2100, its effects will continue for hundreds of years, says Jens Olaf Pepke Pedersen, a physicist at the Technical University of Denmark, one of the scientists on the study. Once the ocean has warmed up, it then needs hundreds of years to cool down again, Pedersen says. According to the model, “these low-oxygen areas would continue to expand and they would peak around 2,000 years from now. The ocean would then slowly recover as it cools.”
Marine oxygen depletion is believed to have played a role in the major mass extinctions in the past, such as The Great Dying, that occurred at the end of the Permian, 250 million years ago, which wiped out 95 per cent of all marine life. Areas of low oxygen exist in today in shallow areas next to the coast, where runoff from agricultural fertilizer causes a multiplication of oxygen-gobbling algae producing the dead zones.
By Alex Shimo - Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 6:19 PM - 3 Comments
Two researchers say the damage to the world’s tropical forests may not be as…
Two researchers say the damage to the world’s tropical forests may not be as bad as first feared. Because population growth is slowing in many countries and people are moving to cities, the pressure to cut down primary rainforest and use marginal land for agriculture is falling, according to Joseph Wright of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and Helene Muller-Landau of the University of Minnesota.
If current trends continue, the area of tropical of forest will still be at one third of its natural range by by 2030, say the scientists. The area of tropical forest in Latin America and Asia could actually increase. Those predictions mean that in Africa 16-35% of tropical-forest species will become extinct by 2030, in Asia, 21-24% and in Latin America, fewer still, according to the Economist, which first reported the story. Continue…
By Alex Shimo - Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 4:56 PM - 2 Comments
Obama’s cabinet is said to be full of intellectual heavyweights. On climate issues, there…
Obama’s cabinet is said to be full of intellectual heavyweights. On climate issues, there are several key people to watch out for. (Luiza Savage’s article on this is very good on this and other cabinet issues, if you haven’t already read it.)
1) Henry Waxman – the new chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The tenacious democrat blasted the Bush administration on everything from tobacco to loosening standards on toxins like arsenic in drinking water. He is said to be one of leaders of the campaign against “dirty oil”, i.e. oil from Alberta’s oil sands.
2) Steve Chu – the Nobel Prize winner is the new energy secretary and climate czar. Chu has devoted much of his career figuring out a way to wean people off fuels.
3) Tom Vilsack – the Agriculture secretary is the former governor of corn-growing Iowa, where ethanol subsidies are considered a golden goose, bringing jobs and revenues to the state. However, his support isn’t unwaivering – he has suggested lowering the tariff on greener, more efficient Brazilian sugar-based ethanol, which might bring more competition to the industry.
4) Jane Lubchenco – a marine biologist at Oregon State University, is the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This is the government agency responsible for marine life and studying the climate. Dr. Lubchenco has been critical of the Bush’s inaction on greenhouse-gas emissions and marine pollution, including the species die off in ocean dead zones.
5) John Holden – an expert in the fields of energy, the environment and nuclear proliferation is Obama’s top scientific adviser. When he was president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2007, he argued publicly for swift action on climate change, arguing that otherwise we were headed for disastrous changes that would affect all life on earth. Continue…
By Alex Shimo - Tuesday, January 20, 2009 at 1:03 PM - 10 Comments
A number of references to tackling climate change in Barack Obama’s historic inauguration speech….
A number of references to tackling climate change in Barack Obama’s historic inauguration speech. Obama has long made climate change a key part of his program, with his stimulus package, creating green jobs, and the incoming cap and trade program. In his words:
- He talked about “restoring science to its rightful place;” likely partly a veiled reference to his appointment of Nobel prize winner Steven Chu as Energy Secretary, who is regarded as a key player in the administration’s climate change program.
- “We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.” Obama’s $875 billion stimulus package is hoped to create 3-4 million jobs, many of them in clean tech.
- “Nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect.”
-”Each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.”
By Alex Shimo - Tuesday, January 20, 2009 at 10:56 AM - 6 Comments
It sounds almost too good to be true doesn’t it? Reducing climate change through…
It sounds almost too good to be true doesn’t it? Reducing climate change through a lick of white paint? Actually scientists have long known that white roofs leads to lower cooling costs because they reflect, instead of absorb, heat. According to a study released at the annual Conference on Climate Change by the California Energy Commission, painting a single 1,000 square-foot dark roof white would reduce carbon emissions by 10 metric tons. Changing the color of roofs and pavement in 100 of the world’s largest cities could reduce global emissions by 44 billion metric tons, says Hashem Akbari, a scientist at theLawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, who has a campaign to whiten the world’s roofs. Just to compare, the world produced 49 billion metric tons of emissions in 2004, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
A number of cities have already started implementing this solution: California has mandated all commercial properties with flat roofs be white, and New York is whiting roofs as part of the greening of its transit system. White roofs could cut energy use by buildings by 20 percent, the researchers said. The equivalent energy reduction would save the U.S. $1 billion a year in energy costs.
One concern with this solution is glare. Shiny surfaces are fine for flat roofs, which most people never see, but for other buildings or roads, it might start looking like the Arctic in the summer time, with harsh white light bouncing off bright surfaces. Leading the way, Japanese researchers has tried painting roads with different paints: one’s that reflects infrared light which helps keeps surfaces cool, yet reflects a small proportion – just 23 per cent – of visible light, according to The Guardian. They’ve even done tests with pedestrians, having them stand on the different types of painted roads, and the research subjects seemed to prefer the reflective streets because they were cooler.
Of course, this isn’t a complete solution – emissions are still rising. But a lick of paint for the roofs of 100 of world’s biggest cities would wipe out the expected rise in emissions over the next decade, says Akbari.
By Alex Shimo - Thursday, January 15, 2009 at 12:52 PM - 35 Comments
Bjorn Lomborg has written a challenging article on why Barack Obama should not do…
Bjorn Lomborg has written a challenging article on why Barack Obama should not do anything about climate change. Lomborg is probably the most respected of climate change skeptics, and author of two books, The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool It. He doesn’t dispute that global warming is happening, but argues our money is better spent on other policy goals. He makes the following points.
1) Global food production is expected to decrease with climate change, but only by a small amount: 1.4 per cent. Even under the most pessimistic predictions, advances in technology mean food production can more than keep pace with this slight decrease to feed the world’s hungry.
2) Implementing the Kyoto Protocol will cost $180 billion annually. If we spent $10 billion annually on direct food aid, the United Nations estimates we could help 299 million hungry people now.
3) Sea levels are rising, but they have been rising since the early 1800s. (The last mini Ice age was from 1550-1850, which is why sea levels have been rising for that long. Since 1993, the rate of rise has in fact increased).
4) Coastlines are determined as much by the natural climate as by human intervention. The massive humanitarian disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina was mainly because of the lack of intervention to protect the coast and disorganized and poorly-managed clean up efforts. New Orleans needs to focus on how to protect itself against the next hurricane, as there will be another hurricane of equal ferocity regardless of how the planet is affected by global warming.
Anyway, you can read the full article here. I have some objections to his points, but I’d like to hear from readers first.
By Alex Shimo - Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at 6:52 PM - 7 Comments
A number of prominent media outlets, including Macleans, published yesterday’s study on the environmental…
A number of prominent media outlets, including Macleans, published yesterday’s study on the environmental impact of Google. According to a Harvard physicist, Google is a major contributor to our carbon footprint because each Google search takes about as much carbon dioxide as boiling a kettle, or about 7g of CO2.
Google rebuffed these figures today, saying they are out by a factor of 35. They say it takes about 0.2 g of CO2 for each search. Which is not very much at all. To put this figure in perspective, you’d need to do about 1,000 Google searches to generate the equivalent of driving your car about 1 km.
Wired magazine has also weighed in, coming down on Google’s side. They argue that even if the Harvard professor was right, Google’s total contribution still amounted to very little in the big scheme of things. The United States generates 6.9 billion kilograms of CO2-equivalent per day, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. So assuming that Google does 5 billion daily searches and the higher figure of 7g CO2 is right, says Wired, then the search engine is still only responsible for 0.2 per cent of the nation’s carbon footprint.
So, keep Googling.
By Alex Shimo - Monday, January 12, 2009 at 6:02 PM - 15 Comments
Are you tired of reading doomsday articles about how the world is going to…
Are you tired of reading doomsday articles about how the world is going to hell in a handbasket? Are you annoyed by the “greener than thou” attitudes of people who eat granola, wear hemp trousers and lecture you on Who Killed The Electric Car? Are you infuriated when your compost bag bursting on the way to the green bin spilling rotten garbage all over your lawn? Do you long to set fire to the mountains of plastic garbage bags you have collected under your sink in a massive explosion of noxious fumes? Do you secretly long for climate change to hurry up so we can enjoy lengthy, hot summers where there is nothing but drought?
If you answer yes to one more more of the above, you may suffer from green fatigue. Continue…
By Alex Shimo - Friday, January 9, 2009 at 2:21 PM - 4 Comments
Well, sort of. President Bush is to create the world’s largest marine protection area…
Well, sort of. President Bush is to create the world’s largest marine protection area in the Pacific Ocean. Mining and commercial fishing will be banned across 505,000 square kilometers, in an area larger than California. These preserves include the the northern Marianas Islands and the Mariana Trench, Pacific Remote Islands, and Rose Atoll Marine National Monuments and are home to hundreds of species of bird and fish that are found nowhere else, including, the Micronesian megapode, which is the only known living bird that uses volcanic heat to incubate its eggs. The Mariana Trench is also home to the deepest spot on the sea floor.
“These places are so pristine that they are like time machines that take us hundreds of years in the past,” says Enric Sala, a marine ecologist at the National Geographic Society, speaking to National Public Radio.
George W. Bush used the authority of the Antiquities Act of 1906, which allows the president to protect areas of historic or scientific significance on land owned or controlled by the United States.
A legacy, of sorts.
By Alex Shimo - Monday, January 5, 2009 at 12:38 PM - 36 Comments
We haven’t heard a lot about the other ice sheet, the one at the…
We haven’t heard a lot about the other ice sheet, the one at the South Pole. This is probably because no one lives on in the Antarctic, other than a few very cold scientists, and not that much is known about it, compared to the arctic, where data was amassed by Canadian, United States, and the Soviet military in their struggle for power during the cold war. What we do know is that the Arctic is in a very bad state: September Arctic sea ice has decreased between 1973 and 2007 at a rate of about -10% +/- 0.3% per decade. By contrast, ice in the Antarctic has shown very little trend over the same period, or even a slight increase since 1979. Continue…
By Alex Shimo - Friday, January 2, 2009 at 5:14 PM - 201 Comments
No you weren’t imagining it. The snow storms and freezing temperatures across the country…
No you weren’t imagining it. The snow storms and freezing temperatures across the country aren’t just a one off, but the winters of the past few years have actually been getting colder. The world’s average global temperature has fallen for the past four years, and 2008 was the coldest since 2000. The British Met Office has released figures that the show the earth’s average for 2008 was 14.3 C , which is 0.14 C below the average temperature for 2001 – 2007. Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies has also released figures with similar results. Continue…
By Alex Shimo - Tuesday, December 30, 2008 at 5:23 PM - 6 Comments
Earlier this month, a report came out on how much contaminated water was leaking…
Earlier this month, a report came out on how much contaminated water was leaking from the Alberta tar sands. The Green Room reported on the study, as did pretty much every other Canadian media outlet. This was likely because the volumes of the leaks were so big – 11 million litres every day – and the contaminated water was filled with lots of substances that one really shouldn’t drink, such as known carcinogens and toxins like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and copper, zinc and iron.
Anyway, the Green Room was curious about what could be done about this, so we contacted one of Canada’s leading researchers on water pollution, Leslie Warren at McMaster University. Warren has been studying a specific solution – using bacteria to neutralize the tailings ponds. Here are my questions and her answers:- Continue…