Energy and Global Warming News for August 25th: Geoengineering “not a solution” to sea-level rise; Veterans coalition says climate change a security issue

BBC: Geoengineering ‘not a solution’ to sea-level rise

Even the most extreme geoengineering approaches will not stop sea levels from rising due to climate change, a study suggests. New research proposes that as many as 150 million people could be affected as ocean levels increases by 30cm to 70cm by the end of this century.

This could result in flooding of low-lying coastal areas, including some of the world’s largest cities. The team published the study in the journal PNAS.

Scientists led by John Moore from Beijing Normal University, China, write that to combat global warming, people need to concentrate on sharply curbing greenhouse gas emissions and not rely too much on proposed geoengineering methods.


“Substituting geoengineering for greenhouse emission control would be to burden future generations with enormous risk,” said Svetlana Jevrejeva of the UK’s National Oceanography Centre, a co-author of the study.

Geoengineering has been talked about for countering some of the effects of climate change for the past several years, with some figures like the billionaire Bill Gates ploughing millions of dollars into the research.

But Dr Jevrejeva told BBC News that some proposals such as placing mirrors in space and spraying aerosols — microscopic particles — into the sky would only treat the symptoms, as greenhouse gases would remain in the Earth’s atmosphere. Dr Jevrejeva and her colleagues examined two geoengineering schemes with five different scenarios.

For more, see Physorg’s article and PNAS, “Efficacy of geoengineering to limit 21st century sea-level rise” (subs. req’d).

Australian kingmakers consider climate change position

Independent MPs are today meeting to discuss whether action on climate change should be a condition of any king-making deal with Labor or the Liberal-led coalition as horse-trading begins in the wake of Saturday’s inconclusive Australian election.


Rob Oakeshott, Bob Katter and Tony Windsor are aiming to decide what demands should be presented to the two parties in the likely event of a hung parliament. Climate change policy is reportedly a key part of their agenda.

At the latest count Labor was hopeful of holding 73 seats in the 150-seat parliament, while the coalition holds 70, both short of the 76 seats needed in the lower house to form a government.

Greens MP Adam Bandt and independent Andrew Wilkie are not taking part in the meeting, but are also said to be weighing up their options. Bandt is widely expected to align himself with the Labor party, but Wilkie has said that he could support either of the two main parties.

Oakeshott, who has emerged as a key negotiator in the group of three independents, yesterday called for action on climate change to form part of any deal. “That is one example of what we may be able to deliver for this country, which the last parliament couldn’t do,” he told ABC news.

Meanwhile, both parties are also looking to woo those Greens elected to the upper house, known as the senate, to ensure that legislation can be approved without opposition.

Nanobiotechnology-Manipulated Light Particles Used to Accelerate Algae Growth

Scientists and engineers seek to meet three goals in the production of biofuels from non-edible sources such as microalgae: efficiency, economical production and ecological sustainability. Syracuse University’s Radhakrishna Sureshkumar, professor and chair of biomedical and chemical engineering in the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science, and SU chemical engineering Ph.D. student Satvik Wani have uncovered a process that is a promising step toward accomplishing these three goals.


Sureshkumar and Wani have discovered a method to make algae, which can be used in the production of biofuels, grow faster by manipulating light particles through the use of nanobiotechnology. By creating accelerated photosynthesis, algae will grow faster with minimal change in the ecological resources required. This method was published in Applied Physics Letters and recently highlighted in the journal Nature.

The SU team has developed a new bioreactor that can enhance algae growth. They accomplished this by utilizing nanoparticles that selectively scatter blue light, promoting algae metabolism. When the optimal combination of light and confined nanoparticle suspension configuration was used, the team was able to achieve growth enhancement of an algae sample of greater than 30 percent as compared to a control.

The Big Green (living) Bus

It’s not your typical college road trip. Find out how a dozen students driving around the country on a bus actually helped the environment.

Photo: Joe Mehling/Dartmouth

When was the last time you had the urge to spend your entire summer with 11 other people on a 20-year-old bus? Perhaps when you were in college? For 12 Dartmouth students, spending a summer on The Big Green Bus was a chance of a lifetime.

For the sixth year in a row, 12 students are traveling the country in a 1989 coach bus that has been converted to run on waste vegetable oil. The bus also features a number of other green features, including solar panels for electricity, bamboo floors and deep cycle batteries to store their solar energy. They are stopping in more than 30 cities across the country to talk to people about sustainability and green living.

I spoke to David Peterson, who was on a stop in Birmingham, Alabama, about the bus, changing hearts and minds and the importance of individual action.

Cool Green Science Blog: What actually happens when you pull up to a stop? Are you handing out flyers, just talking to people, or what?

David Peterson: The bus itself acts as a museum on wheels. We clean it up and open it up to the public. We try to use the bus to get people’s attention. It’s big and green, so it gets people interested. The inside has been retrofitted to look like a house. We can tell people a lot of things about sustainability just by showing them around the bus.

Our theme this year is the little things you can do in your life to be more green. We try to not hand anything out because we are promoting less consumption in general, but we do sell t-shirts and have magnets.

Climate change a security issue, veterans coalition says

Robin Eckstein deployed to Iraq as an Army truck driver shortly after the U.S. invasion in 2003. Her job: hauling supplies to U.S. bases from the Baghdad airport.

“Every day it was a roll of the dice as far as what we were going to encounter,” she said. “Was it going to be IEDs? Sniper fire? Was anybody going to be shot or killed? This was my life while I was there.

“I really thought: Why are we doing things the way we’re doing?” One of the primary cargoes for those convoys was petroleum — fuel for the massive machinery of war. Eckstein began wondering: Why couldn’t the vehicles be more fuel-efficient? Why not use solar generators? Why not insulate the troops’ tents?

A more energy-efficient war effort would have meant “that’s one extra trip outside the gate I don’t have to make,” she said. “That’s one time I don’t have to get shot at.”

Eckstein came home determined to help make the case to her fellow Americans that energy efficiency isn’t some pie-in-the-sky issue. It’s a matter of dollars and cents — and literally a matter of life and death for U.S. troops in harm’s way. Eckstein was on a panel of speakers Tuesday evening at the MacArthur Memorial spreading the word that climate change and U.S. dependence on foreign oil are threats to national security.