May 31 news: Worst ever carbon emissions leave climate on the brink; Germany to close nukes by 2022

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"May 31 news: Worst ever carbon emissions leave climate on the brink; Germany to close nukes by 2022"

Worst ever carbon emissions leave climate on the brink

Greenhouse gas emissions increased by a record amount last year, to the highest carbon output in history, putting hopes of holding global warming to safe levels all but out of reach, according to unpublished estimates from the International Energy Agency.

The shock rise means the goal of preventing a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius – which scientists say is the threshold for potentially “dangerous climate change” – is likely to be just “a nice Utopia”, according to Fatih Birol, chief economist of the IEA. It also shows the most serious global recession for 80 years has had only a minimal effect on emissions, contrary to some predictions.

Last year, a record 30.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere, mainly from burning fossil fuel – a rise of 1.6Gt on 2009, according to estimates from the IEA regarded as the gold standard for emissions data.

“I am very worried. This is the worst news on emissions,” Birol told the Guardian. “It is becoming extremely challenging to remain below 2 degrees. The prospect is getting bleaker. That is what the numbers say.

Germany: Nuclear power plants to close by 2022

Germany’s coalition government has announced a reversal of policy that will see all the country’s nuclear power plants phased out by 2022.

The decision makes Germany the biggest industrial power to announce plans to give up nuclear energy.

Environment Minister Norbert Rottgen made the announcement following late-night talks.

Chancellor Angela Merkel set up a panel to review nuclear power following the crisis at Fukushima in Japan.

There have been mass anti-nuclear protests across Germany in the wake of March’s Fukushima crisis, triggered by an earthquake and tsunami.

Goldman Sachs sees $5 gas this summer

Even with pressure on gas prices easing en route to Memorial Day, Goldman Sachs predicts U.S. consumers could see $5 a gallon this summer.

Goldman estimates oil could reach $135 per barrel by mid-July, with accompanying gas prices hitting the $5-per-gallon mark, the New York Post reported Sunday.

But the evidence isn’t there yet. Oil has fallen to $100 a barrel this spring, and dampened demand has helped keep gas prices down as well

A ‘sudden’ climate change kills millions of fish in Philippines

Hundreds of thousands of milk fish washed up dead at Taal Lake in Talisay, Batangas, south of Manila on Sunday, baffling environmentalists and raising concerns over climate change issues.

“About 500 metric tons (500,000 kilos) of fish, worth more than 50 million pesos (U.S. $ 1.159 million) were seen floating in the water in the six towns of Batangas province the past two days”, a local mayor told Reuters.

According to a local town agriculturist, the cause of the fish kill was a “sudden” climate change in the area.

Using microbes to generate electricity

Published today by the leading scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the research demonstrates for the first time the exact molecular structure of the proteins which enable bacterial cells to transfer electrical charge.

The discovery means scientists can now start developing ways to ‘tether’ bacteria directly to electrodes – creating efficient microbial fuel cells or ‘bio-batteries’. The advance could also hasten the development of microbe-based agents that can clean up oil or uranium pollution, and fuel cells powered by human or animal waste.

“This is an exciting advance in our understanding of how some bacterial species move electrons from the inside to the outside of a cell,” said Dr Tom Clarke of UEA’s School of Biological Sciences.

NASA’s Sustainability Base generates buzz for its eco-friendly architecture

The $20-million Silicon Valley office building, expected to be completed by mid-July, incorporates technology used by astronauts and will generate more electricity than it consumes.

Instead of sending its employees to space, NASA is building them an office of the future closer to home.

The curvy, space-age building at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley incorporates technology used by astronauts and will be one of a few structures in the state that can generate more electricity than it consumes. Construction won’t be complete until mid-July, but the federal government is already calling the $20-million facility its green building of the year.

Mercury, PCBs widespread in sport fish along California’s urban coastline, survey finds

Nineteen percent of the coastline sampled by the state water board harbored fish with mercury in such high concentrations that they shouldn’t be eaten by young women and children.

Traces of mercury and PCBs are widespread in sport fish in California’s urban coastal waters, a survey released last week by the state water board found.

But 19% of the urban coastline sampled by researchers harbored fish with mercury in such high concentrations that they shouldn’t be eaten by young women and children. Fourteen percent of locations had similarly elevated levels of PCBs.

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