The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.
Some of the major goals of climate policy wonks, like putting a price on carbon pollution, can’t happen without the help of Congress, but that doesn’t mean the president’s hands are completely tied; last week, the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University released a report co-authored by former Colorado governor Bill Ritter that details 200 climate actions Obama could take without Congress.
So what options does the president have? Here are a few ideas:
We’re overconsuming ourselves into environmental oblivion.
Farming will eliminate forests, plains, and other wild areas nearly the size of Brazil by 2050 around the world if we can’t mend our agricultural, dietary, and biofuel-burning ways. This unsustainable drive for more growing land will result in rising hunger and more frequent riots as food prices increase.
That’s the salty prognosis in a new report by scientists working for the U.N.’s International Resource Panel.
In 2009, a borehole drilled at Krafla, northeast Iceland, as part of the Icelandic Deep Drilling Project (IDDP), unexpectedly penetrated into magma (molten rock) at only 2100 meters depth, with a temperature of 900-1000 C. The borehole, IDDP-1, was the first in a series of wells being drilled by the IDDP in Iceland in the search for high-temperature geothermal resources. The January 2014 issue of the international journal Geothermics is dedicated to scientific and engineering results arising from that unusual occurrence.
The tropical carbon cycle has become twice as sensitive to temperature variations over the past 50 years, new research has revealed. The research shows that a one degree rise in tropical temperature leads to around two billion extra tonnes of carbon being released per year into the atmosphere from tropical ecosystems, compared with the same tropical warming in the 1960s and 1970s.
The warming effect of human-induced greenhouse gases is a given, but to what extent can we predict its future influence? That is an issue on which science is making progress, but the answers are still far from exact, say researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the US and Australia who have studied the issue and whose work which has just appeared in the journal Science. Indeed, one could say that the picture is a “cloudy” one, since the determination of the greenhouse gas effect involves multifaceted interactions with cloud cover.
Around the globe, sea levels typically rise a little in summer and fall again in winter. Now, a new study shows that, from the Florida Keys to southern Alabama, those fluctuations have been intensifying over the past 20 years. Summer peaks have been getting higher and winter troughs dipping lower, potentially increasing flooding from hurricanes and stressing delicate ecosystems, the researchers report. The additional summer increase in sea levels over the past two decades means storm surges can rise higher than previously thought, increasing how much sea level rise contributes to the flooding risk from hurricanes, according to Thomas Wahl, a postdoctoral researcher from the University of Siegen in Germany who is working at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg and lead author of the study.
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2. The earth is our home, not our trash can.
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