Trees are nature’s way of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Growing plants take up CO2 and store it in the form of their roots, stems and leaves. And in fact, a significant factor in the growing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been the extensive deforestation that has gone on over the past couple of centuries.
The changing climate is having a marked effect on forests in this country. In particular, trees along the U.S. eastern seaboard are changing their range as they slowly seek to escape rising temperatures.
The end of 2013 marked the first occasional observations of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere of 400 parts per million. There is nothing magical about that value, but we do tend to focus on round numbers.
The soils that encircle the northern reaches of the Arctic are a vast repository for carbon in the form of undecayed organic matter from dead vegetation. The enormous amount of material trapped in the permafrost contains enough carbon to double the current amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Capturing carbon dioxide instead of releasing it into the atmosphere is a way we can use fossil fuels without it having harmful effects on the climate. Energy storage is a way to address the volatility of clean energy sources like wind and solar power. Excess energy stored during peak production can be used when production ceases, such as when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing.
Most of the world has accepted the analysis of the overwhelming majority of climate scientists that shows that our planet is warming and that our actions are the primary cause. However, some people – notably a number holding high office – reject this analysis. What exactly does it imply to say that climate change is not happening or is not caused by us?
At the end of last year, Southern California Edison turned on the largest lithium-ion battery storage facility in the world in Ontario, California. It is a substation with 80 megawatt-hours of capacity, enough energy to power 2,500 households or charge 1,000 Tesla cars a day.
There is a lot of interest in figuring out a way to store carbon dioxide produced from industrial processes and energy plants or even sucking it out of the atmosphere and then storing it. The problem is where exactly to put the stuff and how to make sure that it stays there.
Santa Claus may have to change out of that heavy red suit this Christmas. The North Pole, site of his fabled workshop, is seeing historically high temperatures this year. In fact, it is 36 degrees Fahrenheit higher than it has been in past decades. This is a staggering number.
From 1998 until 2013, scientists observed a slowing in the rate of global mean surface warming. In other words, global temperatures were not rising as quickly as before. This quickly became known as the “global warming hiatus.”
Most of the blame for climate change has been placed on the growing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but methane also plays a major role. Estimates are that about 1/5 of greenhouse effect warming is caused by methane in the atmosphere. There is far less of it than carbon dioxide, but methane is tremendously more effective at trapping heat.
Back in December of 2013, a little less than three years ago, Earth Wise reported that the observatory on Mauna Loa in Hawaii had briefly measured carbon dioxide levels greater than 400 parts per million for the first time ever. During the following year, readings above the 400 level started to pop up occasionally elsewhere as well.
Forests are a vital part of biodiversity and are one of the planet’s most important natural repositories for carbon dioxide. They are also continually under attack by multiple forces: more mouths to feed, more wood needed to burn and build with, more paper to manufacture, and more land needed to graze cattle.
Researchers in Antarctica have been keeping watch on the infamous ozone hole over that continent for several decades. The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was a multinational agreement signed in 1987 designed to reduce the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances that enter the atmosphere. It has been amended in various ways on many occasions over the subsequent years.
President Obama has set 2030 as the target for reducing U.S. carbon dioxide emissions to comply with the Paris Climate accord. Unfortunately, the Senate’s new Energy Bill would allow states to count wood as a “carbon neutral” fuel when drawing up plans to comply with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.
Worldwide, climate change isn’t just raising temperatures, its also altering the distribution of water. So reports an inventive new study that tapped into archival water samples to reveal how sources of precipitation have changed over time.
The term geoengineering has started to appear in discussions about how to combat climate change. Mostly, it is used to describe using technology to tinker with the global environment, for example, by artificially enhancing the atmosphere’s ability to reflect the sun’s rays back out into space and thereby cooling the planet.
Much of the public discourse about pollution is focused on the long-term consequences of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. There are still some who doubt that such consequences are really in the offing or that our actions are responsible in any case.
There is a global effort underway to combat climate change. The carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the primary culprit. As a result, there are two things to do about it: reduce the amount of CO2 we are dumping into the atmosphere and try to remove some of what is already there.