Carbon dioxide is not a very popular substance. As a greenhouse gas, it is the chief culprit in climate change and, as such, the world continues to seek solutions for preventing its release in the environment.
Most gas stations in the U.S. sell a blend of 90% gasoline and 10% ethanol. Mandated by legislation, the 14 billion gallons of ethanol consumed annually by American drivers is mostly made from fermented corn. Producing this ethanol requires millions of acres of farmland.
A tipping point is a point in time when a small thing can make a big change happen. The term was popularized in sociology in recent decades, but really comes from physics where is refers to adding a small amount of weight to a balanced object causing it to topple over.
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.
A new carbon capture plant, sitting on top of a waste incineration facility near Zurich, Switzerland, is now sucking CO2 out of the air to sell to its first customer. The plant opened on May 31, and is the first commercial enterprise of its kind.
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 methanol economy is an idea that was promoted by the late Nobel-prize-winning chemist George Olah since the 1990s. The idea is to replace fossil fuels with methanol for energy storage, ground transportation fuel, and raw material for hydrocarbon-based products. Methanol is the simplest alcohol and can be produced from a wide variety of sources ranging from fossil fuels to agricultural products to just carbon dioxide. Methanol can be used directly as a fuel or it can be reformed into hydrogen, which can then itself be used as a fuel.
Renewable energy may be under attack by the federal government these days, but one federal agency is making great progress on using the sun’s energy to split hydrogen from water. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, located in Golden, Colorado, recently highlighted two initiatives aimed at the production of renewable hydrogen.
Liana vines are long-stemmed, woody vines that are rooted in the soil at ground level and use trees or other means of vertical support to climb up to the canopy to gain access to sunlight. There are numerous varieties from many plant families. And, for reasons that are not entirely clear, their abundance has doubled in recent decades.
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.
There’s ample evidence over the past decade or so that Americans are gradually changing their diets, driven by health concerns among other factors. But there’s one change that really stands out. According to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Americans have sliced their beef consumption by 19% between 2005 and 2014.
Public opinion about global warming is an important influence on decision making about policies to combat global warming and to be prepared for its consequences. An extensive polling effort by Yale University has produced an estimate of public opinions down to state, congressional district, and county levels.
This Saturday is Earth Day and it’s also the occasion for the March for Science taking place in Washington, DC and in many other cities around the world. The purpose is to express support for scientific research and evidence-based policies in a tumultuous political environment.
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?
When we think of global climate change, what comes to mind? Rising seas? Melting glaciers? Shrinking sea ice? How about diminishing ocean oxygen levels?