Energy and Global Warming News for June 30: Surprise success in Amazon conservation; solar to be studied for 670,000 acres of US public land

Amazon Conservation Policy Working In Brazil, Study Finds

Contrary to common belief, Brazil’s policy of protecting portions of the Amazonian forest from development is capable of buffering the Amazon from climate change, according to a new study led by Michigan State University researchers.

The study, to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, contends state and federal governments in Brazil have created a sustainable core of protected areas within the Amazon. And even if the remaining Brazilian Amazon is deforested, the climate will not significantly change – thereby protecting the Amazon’s ecosystems.

New Measures to Aid Solar on Public Lands

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced measures on Monday to hasten the development of solar energy on Western public lands.

Mr. Salazar, appearing in Las Vegas with Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, said that 670,000 acres of lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (an agency within the Department of the Interior) would be studied to determine whether they could support large solar power arrays.

Markets shrug off passage of landmark climate bill

The markets today seem to be largely shrugging off House passage last week of groundbreaking climate and energy legislation as concerns over the health of the broader U.S. economy and the sentencing of disgraced fund manager Bernard Madoff are grabbing investors’ attention.

Stocks were trading slightly up at the opening bell but leveled as analysts were predicting light or flat trading, although major indexes later bounced back a bit. After bouncing up and down, the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average was trending up slightly, rising by about 80 points, or less than 1 percent, at press time. The S&P 500 rose by 7 points.

Renewable energy and clean technology stocks seemed to be mirroring that performance today — despite bullish provisions in the House bill calling for $190 billion in new investments in alternative energy and energy efficiency and a mandate that utilities draw 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020.

China unhappy with US climate bill

The United States set the bar too low and offered the world a poor example when it passed its climate change bill on Friday, according to a senior Chinese climate change official.

Li Gao, a division director with the Climate Change Department of the National Development and Reform Commission, said the US did not live up to international expectations when it approved the document.

Li said the bill’s mid-term carbon emission target would probably be seized upon as the new standard by developed countries in the battle against global warming.

Agreement on Cell Phone Chargers in E.U.

On Monday, the European Commission, the European Union executive, said that it had reached a voluntary agreement with some of the biggest names in the electronics industry to introduce a common charger for cell phones that fits all models.

Chargers had become a problem because “almost every household has a collection of chargers that have become superfluous over time” and because “old chargers currently generate several thousands of tons of waste a year,” said Guenther Verheugen, the E.U. commissioner for enterprise and industry.

Plastics From Biomass? Inexpensive Method For Removing Oxygen From Biomass Discovered

In revisiting a chemical reaction that’s been in the literature for several decades and adding a new wrinkle of their own, researchers with Berkeley Lab and the University of California (UC) Berkeley have discovered a mild and relatively inexpensive procedure for removing oxygen from biomass. This procedure, if it can be effectively industrialized, could allow many of today’s petrochemical products, including plastics, to instead be made from biomass.

Obama seeks better light bulb

President Obama said Monday that light bulbs will have to meet tougher efficiency standards in order to slash energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions.

“¦ “I know light bulbs may not seem sexy,” Mr. Obama said, “but this simple action holds enormous promise because 7 percent of all the energy consumed in America is used to light our homes and our businesses.”

Mr. Obama told reporters that the tougher standards for fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs will help consumers save $4 billion a year on energy bills between 2012 and 2042. The standards will also conserve enough electricity to power every home in America for 10 months, reduce carbon emissions equal to the amount produced by 166 million cars each year and eliminate the need for as many as 14 coal-fired power plants, he added.

Particulate Pollution Combined With Airborne Soot Adds To Global Warming

Particulate pollution thought to be holding climate change in check by reflecting sunlight instead enhances warming when combined with airborne soot, a new study has found.

Like a black car on a bright summer day, soot absorbs solar energy. Recent atmospheric models have ranked soot, also called black carbon, second only to carbon dioxide in potential for atmospheric warming. But particles, or aerosols, such as soot mix with other chemicals in the atmosphere, complicating estimates of their role in changing climate.

“Until now, scientists have had to assume how soot is mixed with other chemical species in individual particles and estimate how that ultimately impacts their warming potential,” said Kimberly Prather, professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. “Our measurements show that soot is most commonly mixed with other chemicals such as sulfate and this mixing happens very quickly in the atmosphere. These are the first direct measurements of the optical properties of atmospheric soot and allow us to better understand the role of soot in climate change.”

Loss Of Coastal Seagrass Habitat Accelerating Globally

An international team of scientists warns that accelerating losses of seagrasses across the globe threaten the immediate health and long-term sustainability of coastal ecosystems. The team has compiled and analyzed the first comprehensive global assessment of seagrass observations and found that 58 percent of world’s seagrass meadows are currently declining.

The assessment, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows an acceleration of annual seagrass loss from less than 1 percent per year before 1940 to 7 percent per year since 1990. Based on more than 215 studies and 1,800 observations dating back to 1879, the assessment shows that seagrasses are disappearing at rates similar to coral reefs and tropical rainforests.

Climate change hits hard on food production

Developing countries like Rwanda need to conserve as much water as it can sustain so as to counteract the problems of global warming and maintain its agriculture at a level commensurate to the needs of the whole population.

Rwanda being a hilly, makes it possible to collect water from the steep landscape, conserve it and used for agriculture and domestic purposes.

However, during wet periods, we tend to neglect running water. There is now need to think beyond traditional level of depending on ordinary or naturally made items or essentials.

5 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for June 30: Surprise success in Amazon conservation; solar to be studied for 670,000 acres of US public land

  1. paulm says:

    There does seem to be a pattern emerging here:
    extreme weather and recent airline accidents. (and airbuses)

    There have also recently been a number of other near accident incidents that don’t get high profile reported.

    I bet the insurance and air industry are sitting up…

    Yemeni Plane Crashes in Rough Weather

  2. David B. Benson says:

    Unfortunately, Li Gao is correct.

  3. paulm says:

    Some more on air accidents. It seems to me that the weather is increasing the risk of the more likely flying accidents, if only marginally. The summary at the end misses the weather connection even though they mention it in the body of the article.

    The Big Question: Why has another Airbus crashed, and is flying becoming more risky?

    The circumstances of the crash will become clearer once investigators find the plane’s black box, but initially they have pointed to atrocious weather and the late-night landing time as possible contributing factors.

  4. Col says:

    Largest Canadian Province Postpones Nuclear Purchase Indefinitely

    The Ontario government is suspending its bidding program for a new nuclear power plant over something that everyone who has made a big purchase eventually confronts: sticker shock.

  5. Doug says:

    I’m a bit dubious about the study that said it’s “ok” to deforest the Amazon more than previously thought. Mainly, (1) that’s a lot to bet on whether the modeling is correct; and (2) I don’t see mention whether they accounted for rising temperatures due to global warming.