20 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for July 21st: American Meteorological Society endorses geoengineering research
Geo-engineering remains at best a secondary climate strategy if you first do really aggressive CO2 reductions and keep concentrations below 450 ppm. For now, as Obama’s science advisor put it [and reiterated to me this year], “The ‘geo-engineering’ approaches considered so far appear to be afflicted with some combination of high costs, low leverage, and a high likelihood of serious side effects.” At worst, geo-engineering is an utterly false hope that will undercut efforts to achieve the kind of emissions reductions needed for it to have any value. That, of course, is why conservatives love it (see here). Still, there is no reason not to do some research, as long as one is realistic….
Hacking the planet to rein in humanity’s effect on the climate has been given a scientific stamp of approval.
The umbrella body for meteorological scientists in the US is about to endorse research into geoengineering as part of a three-pronged approach to coping with climate change, alongside national policies to reduce emissions.
New Scientist has seen the final draft of the American Meteorological Society‘s carefully worded position paper on geoengineering. The AMS is the first major scientific body to officially endorse research into geoengineering.
The document states that “deliberately manipulating physical, chemical, or biological aspects of the Earth system” should be explored alongside the more conventional approaches to climate change. Conventional approaches means reducing emissions – “mitigation” in policy-speak – and adjusting to the unavoidable effect of climate change – known as “adaptation”….
Opponents of geoengineering may be reassured to find that the statement calls for studies into the social, ethical and legal implications of geoengineering solutions, and for methods to be developed in a transparent fashion.
Capt. John Hickey was on a mission.
The commanding officer at Honolulu’s U.S. Coast Guard Integrated Support Command was determined to save energy on his base when the data server manager bluntly refused, saying he would not slow his machines until the last drop of oil was extracted from Alaska’s protected lands.
“I said to him, ‘OK, we’re at war,'” recounted Hickey, who called supervisors in Washington to eventually override the man’s intransigence.
The episode illustrates some of how far the U.S. military, the nation’s single largest energy consumer — at more than 1 percent of the U.S. total — has come in recognizing and reducing its reliance on fossil fuels. But experts say it also indicates just how far the military still has to go. In 2006 alone, the Pentagon bought 110 million barrels of oil and 3.8 billion kilowatts of electricity. To put that in perspective, it’s about what the entire world uses each day.
Experts say making strides will require changing the culture of an institution accustomed to having everything it needs to get its job done.
“¦Aesthetic concerns have stalled the Cape Wind project, which would erect 130 turbines 5 to 13 miles from Cape Cod and Nantucket. But technological advances in recent years are allowing developers elsewhere to consider building wind turbines farther from shore, where they would be less visible.
Last month, the US Department of the Interior granted the nation’s first ocean leases for exploring the feasibility of large wind farms, with most of the sites 12 to 18 miles off New Jersey and Delaware. New York power companies are exploring the possibility of a vast wind farm 13 miles off the Rockaways. And a 120-turbine farm has been proposed 48 miles off New Bedford.
If these and similar projects prove viable, some wind energy specialists and developers say, they could leapfrog closer-to-shore projects like Cape Wind. Winds are often stronger and more sustained farther from shore.
The chief of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change criticized the Group of Eight summit participants for ignoring the IPCC’s scientific findings and the declaration that emerged from the 2007 U.N. climate conference in Bali, Indonesia, in which leaders agreed to work toward a new treaty limiting average global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius.
Though simultaneously praising the 2-degree commitment as “clearly a big step forward” in international talks, IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri told reporters here yesterday that G-8 leaders failed to heed warnings that global greenhouse gas emissions levels must peak by 2015. Nations must also start to come up with concrete plans for rapidly slashing emissions afterward, Pachauri said.
“They have clearly ignored what the IPCC came up with,” he said. “If the G-8 leaders agreed on this 2-degree increase as being the limit they will be accepting, then I think they should have also accepted the attendant requirement of global emissions peaking by 2015.”
China-based wind turbine manufacturers have overtaken foreign competitors in the race to supply domestic wind power projects for the first time – a lead that is likely to widen due to the government’s controversial “buy Chinese” procurement policy.
According to figures from the state-run Chinese Wind Energy Association, domestic and Sino-foreign joint venture turbine makers accounted for 61.8 per cent of China’s market share at the end of 2008, surpassing overseas producers for the first time.
The top three wind turbine suppliers were homegrown companies Sinovel Wind, Goldwind Science & Technology and Dongfang Electric. Denmark’s Vestas Wind Systems, the world’s largest turbine manufacturer, maintained its fourth-ranking position from 2007, while Spain-based Gamesa fell to fifth place from third.
Canada’s biggest generator of dirty power has launched a $1.5 billion hostile bid for the country’s leading developer of clean power, including the two largest wind farms in Ontario.
Analysts say TransAlta Corp.’s proposed acquisition of Calgary-based Canadian Hydro Developers Inc. could be the first of many moves in an energy sector that sees big polluters trying to green up their assets, partly to limit their exposure to carbon-emission penalties once a national cap-and-trade system is introduced.
“This is a big public indication of what’s to come,” said MacMurray Whale, an alternative energy analyst with Toronto-based Cormark Securities. “It highlights how valuable low-carbon power production is, and it’s a massive opportunity in Canada.”
The process of making textiles can require several dozen gallons of water per pound of clothing, especially during the dyeing process. Amid tightening environmental regulations and a push to save money, companies are working to reduce the waste.
One such company working to cut its water use is California-based Colorep. Its AirDye technology, found in the occasional window shade or T-shirt, uses air instead of water to help the dye penetrate the fiber, a process that it claims uses no water and requires less energy.
Aside from its environmental benefits, solar energy is frequently touted for its job creation potential. But for solar manufacturers themselves, machines “” not employees “” may be the key to their long-term survival.
Take, for example, photovoltaic solar panels “” the most common form of solar technology. As Roger Efird, the managing director of the United States branch of Suntech Power, a solar energy company based in China, the process of making these cells is already largely automated.
Each day, more companies claim to have slashed their carbon footprints or achieved other sustainability goals. But how meaningful are these claims, and are they independently verified?
The short answer: It’s murky.
Researchers for the first time have linked air pollution exposure before birth with lower IQ scores in childhood, bolstering evidence that smog may harm the developing brain.
The results are in a study of 249 children of New York City women who wore backpack air monitors for 48 hours during the last few months of pregnancy. They lived in mostly low-income neighborhoods in northern Manhattan and the South Bronx. They had varying levels of exposure to typical kinds of urban air pollution, mostly from car, bus and truck exhaust.