Want to know what’s going on in environmental news lately?
Listen to this week’s Green Divas myEARTH360 Report before digging into all the environmental news headlines below. Note: Green Diva Meg and I get just a little carried away talking about the bodily functions of cows (consider yourself forewarned), which is why the cow became the feature photo of this week’s report. Cows (not to mention cow farts) are just… funny! And we love to add levity to what’s sometimes bummer news. For past reports, click here.
Methane-producing microbe blooms in permafrost thaw
In time with the climate warming up, parts of the permafrost in northern Sweden and elsewhere in the world are thawing. An international study published in Nature Communications describes a newly discovered microbe found in the thawing permafrost of a mire in northernmost Sweden. There it flourishes and produces large amounts of greenhouse gases.
“Methanoflorens stordalenmirensis” feels so at home in the melting permafrost that it blooms, in a similar way to algal blooms. This is a previously unknown phenomena in methanogens, and since methane is a by-product of their metabolism it will have significant environmental consequences. Read the full story…
Climate change is good for you, says ultra-conservative Heartland Institute
For those concerned about climate change, the ultra-conservative Heartland Institute offers up a calming solution: try thinking of yourself as a pea, instead of a human. Peas in a lab sprouted faster with extreme concentrations of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas mainly responsible for climate change than under normal growing conditions, Heartland said.
“Which pea shoot would you rather be,” asked Craig Idso, the lead author of a new Heartland publication meant to debunk the authoritative new climate change report released by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Read the full story…
Scientists harness cows’ ‘burp-power’ as alternative energy
A team of scientists from the National Institute for Farming Technology in Buenos Aires has found a way of harnessing the methane gas which builds up in the animals’ stomachs and converting it into an alternative energy source. (via BBC News)
White House looks to regulate cow flatulence as part of climate agenda
As part of its plan to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, the Obama administration is targeting the dairy industry to reduce methane emissions in their operations.
The White House has proposed cutting methane emissions from the dairy industry by 25 percent by 2020. Although U.S. agriculture only accounts for about nine percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, it makes up a sizeable portion of methane emissions—which is a very potent greenhouse gas. Read the full story…
Carbon Dioxide Levels Climb Into Uncharted Territory for Humans
The amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere has exceeded 402 parts per million (ppm) during the past two days of observations, which is higher than at any time in at least the past 800,000 years, according to readings from monitoring equipment on a mountaintop in Hawaii. Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is the most important long-lived greenhouse gas responsible for man-made global warming, and it is building up in the atmosphere due to the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas.
Once emitted, a single molecule of carbon dioxide can remain aloft for hundreds of years. Read the full story…
Obama administration pressuring UN on global warming reports
The British and U.S. governments have been lobbying the United Nations to lower its economic cost estimates for fighting global warming. The Obama administration thinks that the UN’s estimate is too high and has been lobbying the international body to revise it.
The UN is set to release this week the latest installment of its ongoing climate assessment, which will go over the different policies countries can use to fight global warming. In a leaked draft of the report from January, UN says the costs of fighting global warming would be staggering — global consumption losses would be four percent by 2030, six percent by 2050 and 12 percent by the end of the century, according to the leaked report. Read the full story…
US Navy Game-Changer: Seawater Turned in Fuel
The US Navy believes it has finally worked out the solution to a problem that has intrigued scientists for decades: how to take seawater and use it as fuel.
The development of a liquid hydrocarbon fuel is being hailed as “a game-changer” because it would significantly shorten the supply chain, a weak link that makes any force easier to attack. The U.S. has a fleet of 15 military oil tankers, and only aircraft carriers and some submarines are equipped with nuclear propulsion. All other vessels must frequently abandon their mission for a few hours to navigate in parallel with the tanker, a delicate operation, especially in bad weather.
The ultimate goal is to eventually get away from the dependence on oil altogether, which would also mean the navy is no longer hostage to potential shortages of oil or fluctuations in its cost. Read the full story…
Meet the Solar Impulse 2: The First Airplane to Attempt a Round-The-World Solar-Powered Flight!
After the Solar Impulse prototype broke eight world records for solar-powered flight, creators Borschberg and Piccard knew it was time to tackle the next big challenge: a trip around the entire planet. In order to do so, they had to build a bigger, badder Solar Impulse to withstand the increased difficulties of a such an arduous trip.
Drawing upon years of design, complex simulations and test flights with the ﬁrst prototype, the Solar Impulse 2 features a range of impressive new technologies, many of which were designed specifically for the aircraft. “Solvay has invented electrolytes that allow the energy density of the batteries to be increased; Bayer MaterialScience is allowing the project to make use of its nanotechnologies; and Décision is using carbon fibers that are lighter in weight than any previously seen,” explains the Solar Impulse website. Read the full story…
Unilever, Shell, BT, and EDF Energy are among 70 leading companies today calling on governments across the globe to step up efforts to tackle climate change.
The companies, which have a combined turnover of $90bn, say the world needs a “rapid and focused response” to the threat of rising global carbon emissions and the “disruptive climate impacts” associated with their growth.
In a communiqué coordinated by The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group, the signatories demand governments put in place policies to prevent the cumulative emission of more than a trillion tonnes of carbon, arguing that passing that threshold would lead to unacceptable levels of climate-related risk. Read the full story…
Media coverage of climate change seems to be increasing.
NBC News’ Ann Curry traveled to far corners of the globe for “Ann Curry Reports: Our Year of Extremes—Did Climate Change Just Hit Home?”
The special, which takes a look at the Arctic, drought-stricken regions in the American West, rising seas on Florida’s coastline, and extreme weather events all over the world, comes days after a panel of some of the world’s top scientists delivered the sobering news that climate change is already being felt in every continent and across the oceans.
Click here to watch more.
The nine-part documentary Years of Living Dangerously, directed by David Cameron, premieres April 13th. Here’s a preview:
Click HERE to watch Episode One (Showtime subscription not needed).
And then there’s this… Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) appeared on Meet the Press to debate former television host Bill Nye about the effects of climate change and how best to address those impacts through public policy.
Join the Global Climate Convergence for People, Planet and Peace over Profit. It’s an education and direct action campaign beginning this spring, with “10 days to change course,” running from Earth Day to May Day. Click here to learn more.
For past GD myEARTH360 Report Environmental News Updates, click here.