tighten your belt!

As the world meets in Cancun, Mexico for the latest round of United Nations talks on climate change, the influential academics called for much tougher measures to cut carbon emissions.

In one paper Professor Kevin Anderson, Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, said the only way to reduce global emissions enough, while allowing the poor nations to continue to grow, is to halt economic growth in the rich world over the next twenty years.

Prof Anderson admitted it “would not be easy” to persuade people to reduce their consumption of goods.

He said politicians should consider a rationing system similar to the one introduced during the last “time of crisis” in the 1930s and 40s.

The Telegraph, 29 Nov 2010

cutting South America loose

As noted by Michael Marshall in New Scientist, we could relink the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans: Destroying the Isthmus of Panama, the slender strip of land that joins North and South America, would reunite the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

Underground nuclear explosions would do the trick. With the land gone, the ocean current that once flowed around the equator would restart and, allegedly, stabilise the climate.

Marshall also says we could flood the planet’s vast depressions, such as the Qattara depression in north-west Egypt and California’s Death Valley.

This could serve multiple purposes, including the creation of new bodies of water, the generation of hydroelectricity, and as a means to offset rising sea levels from global warming.

But on that last point, and as Marshall points out: “[It] is not worth doing for this reason alone: even if we flooded all of the world’s major depressions, it would barely make a difference.”

io9.gizmodo, 4 Aug 2015

see also – action plan

under the weather

Weather control is a prospect that remains well beyond our technological reach, but that could change in the relatively near future.

According to nanotechnology expert J. Storrs Hall, the author of Nanofuture: What’s Next for Nanotechnology, we could start to build a weather machine later this century.

His proposed system would consist of a massive but thin global cloud of small transparent balloons stationed in the stratosphere.

It would basically work as a kind of programmable and reversible greenhouse gas. When the mirrors on the hydrogen balloons face away from Earth, they would reflect sunlight back into space.

io9.gizmodo, 4 Aug 2015

go forth but don’t multiply

What is the Earth’s optimum population? In view of global warming, many would argue that it’s lot less than it is currently.

Two weeks ago, British-based green think tank the Optimum Population Trust called for Britons to have fewer children. This, says an OPT report, is the best way for the planet to combat climate change.

If couples had two children instead of three, says the OPT, they could cut their family’s lifetime carbon dioxide output by the equivalent of 620 return flights a year between London and New York.

“The effect on the planet of having one child less is an order of magnitude greater than all these other things we might do, such as switching off light bulbs,” says John Guillebaud, co-chairman of the OPT and emeritus professor of family planning at University College, London.

“The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet would be to have one less child.”

The Sunday Age, 27 May 2007 – screen copy held by this website

see also – action plan

on the hacking treadmill

New research indicates that hacking the atmosphere — pumping microscopic particles into the stratosphere or clouds to block sunlight and offset global warming caused by greenhouse gases — is imminently possible. The problem is we could never, ever stop doing it.

Climate scientists Damon Matthews of Concordia University and Ken Caldeira of Stanford ran the numbers on atmospheric geo-engineering through a climate simulation and found that while cranking out carbon dioxide at business-as-usual rates we can geo-engineer our way back toward pre-industrial temperatures in short order, reaching 1900 levels in about five years.

Not only that, it would be fairly cheap and easy to do. The problem is what happens if we stop short or screw it up. Bring the geo-engineering process to a halt, and those sun-warmed carbon sinks spit the carbon dioxide right back into the atmosphere.

The rebound warming, to temperatures that would have been reached without the geo-engineering, would be 10 to 20 times the pace of today’s global warming. The rapid warming, up to 7 degrees Fahrenheit per decade, would wreak havoc on the planet and threaten civilization.

To prevent disaster, the geo-engineering process would have to continue as long as carbon-dioxide levels were elevated.

A quarter of the carbon dioxide that comes out of your car’s tailpipe is still in the atmosphere a thousand years later, Caldeira said. We’ve never had systems work for a thousand years without failure, he added.

Heat Is Online – originally ABCNews.com, July 25, 2007

you know what to do!

New Scientist has a little piece on the subject: “Would it be possible to reduce the impact of the greenhouse effect by painting roofs of buildings white to reflect sunlight in the same way the polar icecaps do?”

To answer that question, the the Earth Institute at Columbia University (New York) has undertaken the Global Rural Urban Mapping Project (GRUMP).

Its results show that roughly 3 per cent of the Earth’s land surface is covered with buildings. The Earth has an albedo of 0.29, meaning that it reflects 29 per cent of the sunlight that falls upon it. With an albedo of 0.1, towns absorb more sunlight than the global average.

Painting all roofs white could nudge the Earth’s albedo from 0.29 towards 0.30.

According to a very simple “zero-dimensional” model of the Earth, this would lead to a drop in global temperature of up to 1 °C, almost exactly cancelling out the global warming that has taken place since the start of the industrial revolution.

A zero-dimensional model, however, excludes the atmosphere and, crucially, the role of clouds. But! It would be interesting to see if more sophisticated models predict a similar magnitude of cooling.

So next time you replace the tiles on your roof or buy a new house, you know what to do (if you can’t/won’t get solar panels, white tiles or a green roof, at least try to get a light color).

Tree Hugger, 16 Dec 2005

saved by nuclear power

It would be a “noble act” if Australia embraced nuclear power, which could be generated more safely than coal-fired electricity, one of Australia’s leading scientists and climate experts claims.

Tim Flannery, director of the South Australian Museum and author of two books on climate change, said Australia, the worst greenhouse gas poluter per capita in the world, had few immediate options for clean-energy generation.

“Climate change is so catastrophic and imminent that only nuclear power can save us,” he said.

The Age, 5 Aug 2006 – screencopy held by website

a glass ceiling?

Scientists claim they can fight global warming by firing trillions of mirrors into space to deflect the sun’s rays forming a 100,000 square mile “sun shade.”

According to Dr Roger Angel, at the University of Arizona, the trillions of mirrors would have to be fired one million miles above the earth using a huge cannon with a barrel of 0.6 miles across.

Despite the obvious obstacles – including an estimated $350 trillion (244 trillion pound) price tag for the project – Dr Angel is confident of getting the project off the ground.

The Telegraph, 26 Feb 2009

a safe earthquake

Efforts to stem global warming by pumping emissions of carbon dioxide deep into the Earth’s crust could trigger widespread earthquakes, a Stanford geophysicist warned.

Although those quakes would not be particularly destructive, they would be widely felt and disruptive – and it would also cost billions of dollars to create thousands of disposal sites for the greenhouse gas, said Mark Zoback, one of the country’s leading seismic experts.

Injecting carbon dioxide into thousands of sites in mid-America, he said, would increase the pressure along those faults and inevitably push many into abrupt failure. The result would be quakes with magnitudes of up to 4, he said.

Another serious problem with the sequestration proposals is that many injection wells would be drilled deep into rock and sand formations that are not impermeable, raising the possibility that much if not all of the carbon dioxide could escape into the atmosphere and start the greenhouse problem once again, Zoback said.

Heat Is Online – originally The San Francisco Chronicle 14 Dec 2010

ban livestock!

According to a new report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport.

It is also a major source of land and water degradation.

Says Henning Steinfeld, Chief of FAO’s Livestock Information and Policy Branch and senior author of the report: “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.”

FAONewsroom, 29 Nov 2006

Public transportation takes us there!

There are many different measures that we all can take to reduce global warming, however the most popular method that we can do this is to take public transportation.

In recent studies, conclusive evidence indicates that transportation by way of personal vehicles accounts for well over one fourth of all of the emissions of carbon dioxide in the country today. However, public transportation has resulted in many different types of savings.

These savings include just over one billion gallons of fuel, as well as one and a half million tons of the dangerous emissions of carbon dioxide on a yearly basis.

Green Life,1 May 2009

eco-discount

A Berlin brothel is claiming the title of Germany’s first “green” sex establishment after offering clients eco-discounts if they can prove they arrived by bicycle or public transport.

The concept has been dreamed up by the Maison d’Envie (House of Desire) brothel in the city’s fashionable Prenzlauer Berg district where Germany’s Green party won 46 per cent of the vote in last month’s general election.

Regina Goetz, the former prostitute who runs the establishment, explained yesterday: “The environment is on everyone’s lips around here and it’s pretty hard to find a parking space, so we came up with the idea of an eco-discount of €5 (£4.60) for anyone who leaves the car at home.”

The Independent, 16 Oct 2009