Posts Tagged ‘Technology’

Forget carbon, this is worse: researcher

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Attention should turn to nitrous oxide if climate change is to be properly addressed, according to a Brisbane-based member of a Nobel Prize-winning team who says the gas has 300 times the impact of carbon dioxide.

Queensland University of Technology professor Richard Conant was part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with Al Gore.

Professor Conant’s latest research suggests the best way to reduce greenhouse emissions is to improve the way nitrogen fertiliser, which releases nitrous oxide, is applied to crops throughout the world.

Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture come from two main sources: 38 per cent from nitrous oxide from poor soil fertilisation and 34 per cent from methane from stock.

Professor Conant said the nitrous oxide could be better controlled than methane-emitting pigs and cattle.

“The three greenhouse gases related to agriculture are carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane,” he said.

“They have different impacts on the atmosphere. Now if we say carbon dioxide has an impact of one, methane has an impact of say 21 times.

“Nitrous oxide has an even bigger impact, something like 300 times the impact of CO2.”

The figures represent the ability of a molecule to absorb the long wave energy radiation from the earth.

Nitrous oxide was, per molecule, a bigger destroyer of the cushioning greenhouse environment surrounding the earth, Professor Conant said.

“Nitrous oxide is not the main greenhouse gas, it is just that for every molecule of greenhouse gas, it just absorbs a lot more of the energy from the earth,” he said.

Professor Conant’s latest research suggests it is possible to produce more food and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by improving the way nitrogen fertiliser is applied in developing countries.

Professor Conant, who now works at QUT’s Institute of Sustainable Resources, has used computer modelling to analyse the way nitrogen is applied throughout the world to cereal crops, like maize, rice, wheat, millet and sorghum.

Collectively, these cereals make up about 70 per cent of the world’s food production.

“Literature in this field implies that with greater (nitrogen) fertilisation we can expect that we are going to be less efficient at growing food,” Professor Conant said.

“So there is this fear out there that we are seeing diminishing marginal returns on our nitrogen inputs to the system.”

However, Professor Conant’s research into international cereal crop farming shows that is not the case.

“I think that while in some countries the nitrogen inputs are increasing, the benefits from those nitrogen are not increasing as much in the developing world as they are in the rich world,” he said.

If better food yields could come from improved nitrogen fertilising, Professor Conant said more food could be produced with a lower greenhouse impact.

“By bridging this gap, food production in developing countries can grow more quickly than nitrogen inputs grow in those countries,” he said.

Professor Conant’s research will be housed at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and used by all member nations.

Source: Forget carbon, this is worse: researcher – Brisbane Times AU

Date: 16 June 2011

Global warming crisis may mean world has to suck greenhouse gases from air

Monday, June 6th, 2011

The world may have to resort to technology that sucks greenhouse gases from the air to stave off the worst effects of global warming, the UN climate change chief has said before talks on the issue beginning on Monday.

“We are putting ourselves in a scenario where we will have to develop more powerful technologies to capture emissions out of the atmosphere,” said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. “We are getting into very risky territory,” she added, stressing that time was running out.

The UN climate talks starting on Monday in Bonn, which run for the next two weeks, will try to revive the negotiations before the next climate conference, taking place in Durban, South Africa, in December. But little progress is expected, as the negotiating time is likely to be taken up with details such as rules on monitoring emissions.

Figueres tried to inject a greater sense of urgency into the proceedings by pointing to research from the International Energy Agency that found that emissions had soared last year by a record amount. The strong rise means it will take more effort by governments to curb emissions.

Figueres told the Guardian in an interview that governments should act now to save money: “We add $1 trillion to the cost [of tackling climate change] with every year of delay.”

However, as the latest talks begin, the world’s leading climate change official has upset governments by insisting that the aim of the negotiations ought to be to hold warming to less than 1.5C. That would be a much tougher goal than that set by governments last year, which seeks to limit the temperature rise to no more than 2C – the safety threshold, scientists say, beyond which warming becomes catastrophic and irreversible.

“In my book, there is no way we can stick to the goal that we know is completely unacceptable to the most exposed [countries],” Figueres said.

The difference between the two goals may not seem great, but since it has taken more than 20 years of talks for countries to agree on the 2C limit, many are unwilling to reopen the debate. Delegates are conscious that wrangling over whether to stick to 1.5C or 2C was one of the main sources of conflict at the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009; the hope has been that talks can move on to other issues such as how to pay for emissions curbs in poorer countries.

“This is an extraordinary intervention,” said one official involved in the climate talks, who could not be named.

Figueres said that she had the support of the world’s least developed countries, most of Africa, and small island states.

Another factor casting a pall over this year’s talks, which are intended to forge a new global treaty on climate change, is criticism of the South African government, which will host the Durban talks. No interim meetings have yet been set up, and countries have complained of disorganisation and a lack of enthusiasm. But Figueres said: “South Africa has been very carefully listening, trying to understand where there are commonalities and where the weaknesses are.”

She also predicted the US would play a strong role in the talks, despite the Obama administration facing Republican opposition in Congress to action on emissions. “It’s very evident that the legislative body in the US has disengaged, but … the administration continues to be engaged.” she said.

But Todd Stern, chief negotiator for the US, called for participants in the talks to “roll up their sleeves and be constructive.”

Source: Global warming crisis may mean world has to suck greenhouse gases from air – The Guardian UK

Date: 05 June 2011

Leaders Preserving Our Future: Pace and Priorities on Climate Change

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

On 3 November 2010, the World Preservation Foundation is launching a conference in partnership with Dods, the first name in political information and communications, to address the urgent need to find near term solutions to climate change.

Scientific evidence shows that the strong bias of current mitigation efforts toward carbon dioxide emissions reduction will not produce results sufficient to halt global warming in time to stop irreversible tipping points being passed.

This conference seeks to bring to the forefront the crucial role of reducing shorter lived non CO2 climate forcers – methane, black carbon and tropospheric ozone – as an urgently needed solution at this point in time to help halt further rises in temperatures and climate change.

Renowned scientists, environmentalists and high level dignitaries will present evidence on how the accelerated rate of climate change is having devastating impacts now around the world, covering such topics as global food and water security, sinking islands, the global biodiversity crisis, the melting of glaciers worldwide and the destruction of our oceans.

In the run up to the COP16 UN climate change conference taking place just 4 weeks later in Mexico, this conference seeks to increase awareness about shorter-lived non-CO2 climate forcers and their pivotal role for an effective near term solution to climate change.

Best of British and International Eco-Tec and Initiatives

An eco exhibition will be running throughout the day featuring some of the leading initiatives in green technology and sustainability, demonstrating their importance and tangible ways in which they can be more widely adopted.

Delegates will include members of parliament, NGOs, members of media, local government, celebrities and a cross section of civil society from different sectors.

World Preservation Foundation is thus underlining the immediate need for governments, industry, NGOs and the public to take action now to prevent any further damage to our ecosystems and our planetary life support system.

Fungi Expert’s Solution for Oil Spill

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Now the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been contained, few in the media are delving into the severity of its continued impact on the planetary ecosphere. But mushroom expert, author and Bioneer, Paul Stamets, has a viable solution for the long-term clean-up procedure. Recently named as one of the ‘50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World’, he has made extraordinary discoveries about how the humble mushroom could be the key.

Fungi were the first life forms to inhabit the land 1.3 billion years ago; 600 million years before plants evolved. After asteroid impacts darkened the skies, de-greened the Earth and caused mass extinctions 65 million years back, the only organisms to survive were the ones that ‘paired up’ with fungi and learnt how to
be co-dependent.

“It’s time for another re-greening,” Paul thinks, “as Earth recoils from the on-going catastrophes inflicted by our species.” And cleaning up after oil spills, pollution, storm damage, floods and volcanic clouds is just another day at the office for fungi. It’s a process he has called mycoremediation and here’s how it works.

Beneath the fruit – or mushroom as we call it – fungal roots, known as Mycelia, spread outwards to create a vast mat of underground cells that permeate the soil. Now known to be the largest biological entities on the planet, a single colony can cover an area equal to 1,665 football fields and travel several inches a day. A massive network of whispering spaghetti, these ‘neurological’ tendrils intersect with neighbouring colonies and even fuse with the roots of other species to share water, food and communicate vital information.

Paul explains:

“Mycelia are the Earth’s natural internet – the essential wiring of the Gaian consciousness. The creation of the computer internet is merely an extension of a successful biological model that has evolved over billions of years.”

Once the Mycelium has taken root, it gets to work as a super-filter, producing enzymes and acids that break down the components of woody plants. But importantly, these same enzymes are excellent at disintegrating hydrocarbons – the base structure of all oils, petroleum products, pesticides and pollutants.

Through a series of trials, Paul’s team at Battelle Laboratories, in the US, made some astonishing findings. Soil that had been heavily contaminated with oil and hydrocarbons was inoculated with Oyster mushroom spawn. After four weeks, it was bursting with fruit, while 99% of the hydrocarbons had been destroyed. Only non-toxic components remained and even the mushrooms themselves revealed no traces
of petroleum.

“And then came another startling revelation,” Paul says. “As the mushrooms rotted, flies arrived. The flies laid eggs, which became larvae. The larvae, in turn, attracted birds, who apparently brought in seeds. Soon it was an oasis, teeming with life!”

Amazingly, Paul’s team also found that Oyster mushrooms are tolerant to salt water. Mixed with straw, which will also absorb oil, and encased in biodegradable hemp-socks that are called MycoBooms, the Mycelium is able to colonize and get to work underwater. Myceliated straw and woodchip tubes could also be placed at the shoreline to capture and break down the incoming hydrocarbons. Meanwhile, the mushrooms sprout to create floating gardens; gnats and flies gather, and fish, birds, bats and insects benefit from the emerging food source.

Ahead of the game, back in 1994, Paul proposed that world governments set up Mycological Response Teams who could be deployed after events, such as hurricanes and oil spills.

Mycoremediation centres could be hubs of learning; places to cross-educate others and build central bodies of knowledge for our future generations. In time, world leaders, policy makers, scientists, students and citizens would have all of the Mycoremediation tools necessary to address every single environmental event.

During his 30 years working with fungi, Paul has also made other significant discoveries. Mycelium can protect human blood cells from major infections, such as smallpox, hepatitis B, influenza, HIV and various strains of cancer. Another type of fungi consumes and effectively eliminates the bacteria E. coli, while one species – and the research is currently classified by the Department of Defence – will destroy biological and chemical warfare agents; especially VX, the same deadly nerve gas that Saddam Hussein was accused of using in the Gulf War.

“The time to act is now,” Paul says. “Waiting for science and society to wake up to the importance of these ancient old growth fungi is perilously slow and also narrow in vision… But an unfortunate circumstance we face,” he continues, “is that mycology is poorly funded in a time of intense need. We need to educate our friends, family and policy makers about these solutions and bring local leaders up to speed.”

In order to appreciate the many benefits of mycotechnology, including the ones not yet discovered, Paul believes we need to adopt a ‘mycelial perspective’ of the world and wholly understand how it is  interconnected with every living being on the planet.

“Your job,” he tells us, “is to become embedded into the mind-set of Mycelium and to run with it… Earth is calling out to us, and we need to listen.”

Source: Positive News UK

Date: 14 September 2010

Cleaner Water Mitigates Climate Change Effects on Florida Keys Coral Reefs, Study Shows

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Improving the quality of local water increases the resistance of coral reefs to global climate change, according to a study published in June in Marine Ecology Progress Series.

Florida Institute of Technology coral reef ecologist Robert van Woesik and his student Dan Wagner led the study, which provides concrete evidence for a link between environmental health and the prospects for reefs in a rapidly changing world.

  • When waters in the Florida Keys warmed over the last few summers, corals living in cleaner water with fewer nutrients did well. On the other hand, corals in dirtier water became sick and bleached.
  • In the face of climate change and ocean warming, this study gives managers hope that maintaining high water quality can spare corals.
  • Regulating wastewater discharge from the land will help coral reefs resist climate change.

Source: Cleaner Water Mitigates Climate Change Effects on Florida Keys Coral Reefs, Study Shows - sciencedaily

Date: 07 July 2010

Plants suck 123 billion tonnes of CO2 a year

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Measurements were taken from 253 flux towers around the world, including this one high above the tropical forest in Ghana.

Measurements were taken from 253 flux towers around the world, including this one high above the tropical forest in Ghana.

Trees, shrubs and grasses around the world take in 123 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year through photosynthesis, an international research team has calculated.

Altaf Arain, an associate professor of geography and earth sciences at McMaster University in Hamilton, said:

  • The results published online in Science Xpress on Monday mark the first time researchers have based such a calculation on such a large number of actual measurements instead of mainly computer modelling.
  • During photosynthesis, plants take in carbon dioxide, storing it as energy in the form of sugars. However, they also release large amounts of carbon dioxide while consuming the sugars as energy for growth and sustaining themselves or when they die and decompose — a process known as respiration.
  • Plant photosynthesis and respiration together control a large part of the carbon exchanged between the land and air. That may partly offset some of the carbon released through the burning of fossil fuels, estimated to be around seven billion tonnes a year. However, plants ultimately give off nearly as much carbon dioxide as they consume.
  • Rainfall important – the combined data from around the world showed that availability of water, including rainfall, plays a large role in the amount of photosynthesis that plants undergo.
  • Respiration response to the temperature was the same in various regions across the world, including tropics and the temperate forests.

Source: Plants suck 123 billion tonnes of CO2 a year – cbc.ca

Date: 06 July 2010

Canada to phase out coal-fired plants

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Canada plans to phase out its coal-fired electricity plants as part of its goal to become a “clean energy superpower,” said Environment Minister Jim Prentice.

Prentice said two-thirds of the country’s 51 current coal units should be retired by 2025.

“Our regulation will be very clear,” said Prentice in announcing the regulations Wednesday.

“When each coal-burning unit reaches the end of its economic life, it will have to meet the new standards or close down.”

Prentice said the retired coal-fired plants would have to be replaced with low-emitting electricity such as clean coal, natural gas, hydro, nuclear, wind and tidal power.

Regulations covering new coal power plants would come into effect at the end of 2011.

“A responsible, clear phase-out of the electricity sector’s inefficient coal-fired generation will allow ample time for the implementation of cleaner generation technologies. This will create new jobs in the clean-energy sector, while helping Canada meets its commitment to greenhouse gas reductions,” Prentice said.

The phase-out of traditional coal-fired electricity generation, along with coal closure commitments from provinces and companies, will reduce emissions by about 15 million tons, an amount equivalent to Canada taking about 3.2 million cars off its roads, the government said.

Under Ottawa’s current international commitment, its emissions are supposed to fall to about 440 million tons by 2020.

Coal-fired plants make up 13 percent of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Steve Snyder, president and chief executive officer of TransAlta, said the power supplier sees opportunities to replace its oldest coal plants with a mix of natural gas generation, clean coal technology and renewable energy.

But he warned that Canada’s transition must be done in a “careful and orderly fashion” to maintain the critical reliability of the country’s electricity infrastructure.

Noting that coal accounts for more than 50 percent of current global electricity production, Roger Gibbins, president and chief executive of think tank the Canada West Foundation, said the United States, China and India are not likely to take coal out of their energy mix going forward.

“They will work for cleaner coal, but coal will not disappear from their energy strategies. Why should it for us?” Gibbins told the Calgary Herald.

Prentice also announced that Canada would provide $400 million this year for an international climate fund to help poor countries combat climate change, as negotiated at the U.N. climate change conference in Copenhagen last December.

Source: Canada to phase out coal-fired plants - upi.com

Date: 25 June 2010

Record Number of U.S. Businesses Say They Want Climate Bill This Year

Monday, May 24th, 2010

More than 6,000 U.S. companies – a record amount – are calling on Congress to pass a climate bill this year that puts a price on emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases, according to a recent tally by two major business coalitions.

The groups behind the analysis, the American Businesses for Clean Energy (ABCE) and the We Can Lead campaign, said the results are proof that business demand for climate action is “growing rapidly.”

The list of companies represents a wide cross-section of U.S. industry and covers 21 Fortune 100 companies and 49 Fortune 500 firms. It includes corporate giants Target, Bank of America, IBM, Boeing, General Electric and Starbucks.

In total, the businesses employ an estimated 3.5 million Americans and boast a market capitalization that exceeds $2.6 trillion.

According to Tim Greeff, co-manager of We Can Lead, a coalition of energy, technology and other firms, all the companies share a common goal of enacting a long-term carbon price signal that rewards clean energy innovation.

Last June, the U.S. House narrowly passed the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act. Earlier this month, after eight months of negotiations, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) rolled out their much-anticipated Senate counterpart, the American Power Act. While there are differences in approach, both bills would create a greenhouse gas cap-and-trade market and would cap emissions at 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050.

Source: Record Number of U.S. Businesses Say They Want Climate Bill This Year – solve climate

Date: 24 May 2010

Results 1-8 of overall 8
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Reversing Meat-Eating Culture to Combat Climate Change

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Livestock Production and Shorter-Lived Climate Forcers

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Plant-Based Diets - A solution to our public health crisis

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Leaders Preserving Our Future - Insights Paper - WPF - November 2010

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Maintaining a Climate of Life - Summary Report

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Livestock's Climate Impact

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Livestock & Sustainable Food

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Reducing Shorter-Lived Climate Forcers Through Dietary Change

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The global cost of biodiversity loss: 14 trillion Euros? - EU Commission (2008)

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Forests, Fisheries, Agriculture: A Vision for Sustainability (2009)

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