What if we could avoid hundreds of thousand of deaths, billions of dollars in crop losses and trillions of dollars in healthcare expenditures simply by spreading off-the-shelf technology and industrialized-world regulations to developing nations? Oh, and along the way, we’d mitigate a fair bit of global warming. Sounds like a plan?
I’d say such a plan would be worth considering. Such a plan is outlined by a team led by NASA’s Drew Shindell in Nature Climate Change, which has generously made their paper, “Climate, health, agricultural and economic impacts of tighter vehicle-emission standards,” freely available. Here’s the abstract:
Continue reading “A roadmap to clean living”
Floods, droughts, heatwaves, rising sea levels. Massive debts and deficits. Multiple wars. Peak oil. But what’s really important is providing yet more evidence that the president was born on U.S. soil. So the White House flies a staffer 9,600 miles (15,450 km) from Washington, D.C., to Hawaii and back to collect the certificate of live birth.
Un frakking believable.
Of course, the emissions generated by the staffer’s share of the flight is hardly among the most objectionable consequences of the insanity that is the birther movement. But I just thought I’d point it out.
Proponents of shale gas extraction are not particularly pleased with the attention drawn this week to a new study in Climatic Change that found widespread development of Marcellus natural gas may actually accelerate climate change rather than slow it down. Unfortunately for them, their primary argument rests on a lack of hard data on 1) the actual greenhouse-warming potential of methane; and 2) how much methane finds its way into the atmosphere during drilling and transmission of natural gas. You can find a good summary of the defense’s case at something called the Marcellus Shale Coalition. And it is unfortunate for them, because most opponents of the industry, and the author of new study, use exactly the same argument.
Continue reading “The natural gas question: A best-case scenario”
It was in Bill McKibben’s first, and arguably best, book, The End of Nature, that I first came across the challenge posed by fugitive emissions. Back then — just 20-some years ago — natural gas was touted as a cleaner alternative to coal and oil because the combustion of its primary constituent, methane, results in markedly fewer CO2 emissions than other fossil fuels.
Continue reading “Natural gas won’t save us”
Tennessee’s House passed this disingenuous piece of legislation the other day. They’re not to the first to try this sort of thing and they probably won’t be the last.
Continue reading “Tennessee”
We can’t seem to stop thinking about nuclear power. Given what’s at stake — the biosphere, the economy, our genetic integrity — this is understandable. But I think too many are getting distracted from the fundamental problem with splitting atoms and arguing scientific questions we are unlikely to resolve anytime soon.
Continue reading “The nuclear misdirection”
See that black box over on the left-hand side of this blog? The one with the numbers counting down? That’s a little widget I assembled by rejigging one from trillionthtonne.org. The basic idea is that, if our climate can be expected to suffer severe disruption at a certain amount of global warming due to a certain amount of carbon emissions (since the beginning of the fossil-fuel era around 1850), then our best strategy should be to limit the cumulative carbon emissions to somewhere below that level, in this case 1 trillion tonnes of carbon.
But there’s plenty of uncertainty surrounding the estimate that a trillion tonnes of fossil-fuel emissions will lead to 2 °C of warming. What if the threshold is actually a lot lower? That, unfortunately, is the conclusion of a new paper in Geophysical Review Letters. Carbon emission limits required to satisfy future representative concentration pathways of greenhouse gases, by a team of Canadian climatologists led by Y.K. Arora of Environment Canada and the University of Victoria does not make for optimistic reading.
Continue reading “Mom and dad just cut our allowance … to zilch”
A new review paper in Nature makes a stab an answering the question “Has the Earth’s sixth mass extinction already arrived?” In an apparent effort to satisfy a variety of audiences with different evidentiary and skepticism standards, Nature and the reviews authors, led by Anthony D. Barnosky of the University of California, Berkeley, offer a variety of phrasings.
Continue reading “50 ways to leave your lover”
I guess this was inevitable.
No one is more surprised than I to see something worthwhile reading in The Daily, Rupert Murdoch’s iPad magazine. You might even be forgiven for suspecting an April Fool. But there it is. It’s an editorial by Shikha Dalmia, a senior policy analyst at frequently misnamed Reason Foundation, exploring the fundamental problem with nuclear power. Dalmia’s indictment goes far beyond the nuclear industry, though. Intended or not, it strikes at the heart of the economic philosophy that dominates pretty much the entire planet To wit:
Continue reading “The heart of the problem”