Tag: climate change

Why Renewable Energy Is Good For Business?

Gone are the days where a focus on renewable energy can be relegated to the “environmentally conscious.”

Now, issues surrounding commercial alternative energy solutions encompass a company’s financial performance as well as its corporate social responsibility.

As a result, an increasing number of organizations are taking a deeper look into the benefits of renewable energy for business.




In October last year, the Energy Collective reported that well-known brands including Apple, Bank of America and General Motors are not only looking to reduce their environmental impact but are actively gaining a competitive edge over other companies by investing in and utilizing renewable energy.

These corporations are leveraging their clean energy usage to bolster their business sustainability strategies and financial success. The article states:

Early adopters are building a critical advantage by being ahead of this market …

And goes on to conclude:

… the buying or selling of renewable power directly to corporations will be a barometer of success for businesses of all types.

Far from being simply a fad, investing in renewable energy is taking the stage like never before. Here’s why businesses are taking the concept of using renewable energy seriously:

  1. Consumers are evaluating and prioritizing companies that are committed to reducing and/or eliminating dependence on fossil fuels.
    The Apple brand isn’t only loved for its great technology. Recently, the company illustrated its dedication to sustainability planning by announcing goals for 100% clean energy reliance
  2. Government regulations will likely soon have an even bigger impact on companies and their energy usages.
    In the US, the EPA’s Clean Power Plan may have a significant role in putting the pressure on businesses for clean energy use.
  3. Companies are seeing the advantage of investing in renewable energy initiatives, and the possibility of financial savings.
    A major player in this effort is the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), which is an organization that helps businesses understand the advantages of moving to renewables, and has over 100 major corporate buyers on its roster.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: Popular Science

Artificial Volcanoes Designed To Reverse Global Warming Could Risk Natural Disasters

Efforts are underway to reverse global warming by mimicking volcanic eruptions but such dramatic interventions should be approached with caution, according to a new study.

When volcanoes erupt they spew sulphate particles into the air, cooling the Earth by creating a shield that reflects sunlight away from its surface.

By emitting similar particles into the stratosphere, some scientists have suggested we could imitate this process and reverse climate change in a process termed solar geoengineering.

But creating artificial volcanic eruptions might be as dangerous as it sounds.




New research published in Nature Communications suggests that while geoengineering may indeed have positive impacts, it could also have catastrophic effects in parts of the world already battered by natural disasters.

The researchers used simulations to examine the effect that geoengineering would have on tropical cyclone frequency in the North Atlantic.

While aerosol injections in the northern hemisphere decreased projected cyclone frequency, when applied in the southern hemisphere they could actually enhance cyclone risk.

To make matters worse, the team’s simulation suggested that the positive effects in the northern hemisphere would be offset by an increase in droughts in the Sahel region of sub-Saharan Africa – an area already ravaged by desertification.

The prospect of geoengineering climates may seem remote, but scientists are already engaged in large-scale projects to investigate its feasibility.

The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 sent planet-cooling aerosols into the atmosphere.

One team at Harvard University estimates the whole planet could be solar geoengineered for the “very inexpensive” cost of $10bn.

Dr Jones and his team suggest that while such endeavours might have positive effects they need to be dealt with on an international scale.

If solar geoengineering were ever to occur, it would have to be in a uniform fashion,” he said.

We are extremely concerned that there is no regulation to stop a country doing geoengineering now. This hasn’t been taken seriously by policymakers so far, and that taboo needs to end.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: Popular Science

According To Researchers, Global Carbon Emissions Rising Again After Brief Plateau

For three years in a row, the world’s carbon emissions were virtually stable — holding steady after decades of growth.

But now they’re on the rise again, which is bad news for efforts to fight climate change, according to a team of researchers who have released a new study on the topic.

Seventy-six scientists from around the world contributed to the Global Carbon Project, or GCP, which released its annual “Carbon Budget” yesterday.

The budget estimates that total global carbon emissions from fossil fuels and industrial sources will rise by 2 percent in 2017.

There’s a fair amount of uncertainty in that projection, with possible values from .8 percent to 3 percent — but the researchers are confident it represents an overall rise, fueled in part by changes in the Chinese economy.




The anticipated change is a “big rise,” lead author Corinne Le Quéré tells NPR. “And this is contrary to what is needed in order to tackle climate change.

It’s a shift from the more hopeful findings from the last few years. From 2014 to 2016, according to the GCP analysis, the rate of emissions was basically flat.

Scientists agree that a reduction in carbon emissions is necessary to keep the global warming at 2 degrees Celsius or less, the target established by the global accord on climate change.

That level of climate change is still projected to have a range of damaging effects, including devastation for some island nations — but it will be far from the worse-case scenario projected if emissions continue to rise.

The increase in carbon emissions is not distributed evenly around the world.

The U.S. and the countries of the European Union, which once generated nearly all of the world’s fossil-fuel and industrial carbon emissions, now contribute less than half of the world’s cumulative emissions.

Their contributions are expected to continue to fall in 2017, albeit at a lower rate than they had previously been falling.

Annual Global Fossil Fuel And Cement Emissions
Total global emissions from fossil fuels and cement production (which the Global Climate Project analyzes to quantify industrial carbon output) have been rising, in general, for decades. The pace had slowed to a near standstill over the last three years. This year, however, researchers anticipate a 2 percent rise in the annual release of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels and industry.

Emissions from China, India and the rest of the world, however, are projected to show marked increase in 2017.

The result is “an emissions tug-of-war,” as the CICERO Center for International Climate Research put it in a press release.

That makes it hard to tell what’s going to happen next, because the trend is “so fragile,” as Le Quéré told NPR yesterday.

It’s the difference between emissions rising in parts of the world and decreasing in other parts of the world,” she says. Overall? “Frankly, it could really go either way.

And it’s crucial for that upward trend to start moving down, and quickly, she says.

She points to already-evident consequences of global warming: warmer oceans that can fuel more powerful storms and rising sea levels that cause more devastating coastal surge damage.

In order to tackle climate change emissions you have to go down to almost zero” emissions, she says. “The faster we do it, the more we limit the risks from climate change.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: Popular Science

Scientists Are Delighted To Discover That Eleanor The Sea Turtle Survived Unscathed After Tropical Storm

As seas get warmer, Earth is experiencing more powerful storms and hurricanes.

There are consequences for both humans and animals, and one of the concerns is marine animals – especially endangered species such as certain whales, manatees, sharks and sea turtles.

But new research has revealed that severe weather is not necessarily harmful to individual adult sea turtles – when researchers tracked a sea turtle during a tropical storm, they found that she survived the storm without any problems.

A team of Danish, American and Australian researchers conducted a study in 2012 which involved monitoring sea turtles fitted with GPS transmitters and motion sensors off the coast of Sarasota Florida.




One of the sea turtles, a loggerhead named Eleanor, was unexpectedly caught in a tropical storm, giving the researchers a unique opportunity to see how a sea turtle would cope with a storm.

We were delighted to find that she rode out the storm in style without any problem,” says Maria Wilson, a biologist at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU).

We know little about how sea turtles manage during hurricanes and tropical storms.

Storms could blow sea turtles off course, or surviving a storm could be so exhausting that it drains energy reserves and thus the ability to survive and produce eggs, thereby having a negative impact on the next generation of sea turtles,” explains Wilson.

A team of Danish, American and Australian researchers conducted a study in 2012 which involved monitoring sea turtles fitted with GPS transmitters and motion sensors off the coast of Sarasota Florida.

One of the sea turtles, named Eleanor, was unexpectedly caught in a tropical storm, giving the researchers a unique opportunity to see how a sea turtle would cope with a storm.

Eleanor was tagged for 16 days, four of which were during the storm, and data from the GPS and animal motion tags showed that she drastically changed behavior when the storm struck.

She was inactive for most of the first 9 days, during which she rested at on the seabed 80 per cent of the time with low levels of oxygen consumption.

Eleanor the sea turtle was caught in tropical storm Debby, which passed through through the Mexican Gulf between June 23 – 27, 2012 and caused extensive flooding in Florida, reaching wind speeds of up to 100 kph.

She was at sea in the Mexican Gulf in the egg-laying season when she was hit by the storm, and consequently, she had already nested on one of Florida’s beaches and had returned to the sea to replenish her energy reserves before coming back to lay more.

Eleanor was tagged for 16 days, four of which were during the storm, and data from the GPS and animal motion tags showed that she drastically changed behavior when the storm struck.

Before the storm, she rested on the seabed, moving only to go to the surface air.

When the storm struck, she moved further North than the researchers expected because she was forced by prevailing currents.

She also changed her diving patterns, becoming much more active instead of saving energy for the next egg-laying event.

Even though Eleanor swam for most of the four days the storm raged, she was good at saving energy, ending up actually using no more than she would normally use to produce 12 eggs,” says Wilson.

Given that sea turtles lay somewhere between 300 and 900 eggs during a nesting season, that’s not much.

The researchers calculated Eleanor’s energy consumption based on motion sensors (3D accelerometers and gyroscopes – a device used to measure orientation), which detected when she was swimming.

How much energy a swimming turtle uses had been determined from earlier experiments in the laboratory, making it possible to estimate how much energy they use at sea.

Even though it may seem that sea turtles are robust enough to avoid being harmed during storms, such a powerful storm can still be a major threat to them.

Sea turtles lay their eggs on the beach, and their nests are extremely vulnerable to passing storms,” Wilson says.

The storm that Eleanor easily survived destroyed almost 90% of nests on the beach where she and several hundred other female turtles had laid their eggs.”

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: Popular Scientist

How Do We Know That Global Warming Is Real?

The Earth’s climate has changed throughout history.

Just in the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat, with the abrupt end of the last ice age about 7,000 years ago marking the beginning of the modern climate era and of human civilization.

Most of these climate changes are attributed to very small variations in Earth’s orbit that change the amount of solar energy our planet receives.

The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over decades to millennia.




Earth-orbiting satellites and other technological advances have enabled scientists to see the big picture, collecting many different types of information about our planet and its climate on a global scale.

This body of data, collected over many years, reveals the signals of a changing climate.

The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other gases was demonstrated in the mid-19th century.

Their ability to affect the transfer of infrared energy through the atmosphere is the scientific basis of many instruments flown by NASA.

There is no question that increased levels of greenhouse gases must cause the Earth to warm in response.

Ice cores drawn from Greenland, Antarctica, and tropical mountain glaciers show that the Earth’s climate responds to changes in greenhouse gas levels.

Ancient evidence can also be found in tree rings, ocean sediments, coral reefs, and layers of sedimentary rocks.This ancient, or paleoclimate, evidence reveals that current warming is occurring roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming.

This ancient, or paleoclimate, evidence reveals that current warming is occurring roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: New Scientist

Cargo Ships Are Creating Sea Lightning

Thunderstorm aficionados, if you really want to see some action then get yourself aboard a cargo ship.

A new study has shown that lightning strikes occur nearly twice as often above busy shipping lanes than in the regions to either side.

It turns out the belching fumes from ship exhausts are helping to trigger extra lightning.

While analysing data from the Worldwide Lightning Location Network, a web of sensors around the world that track lightning strikes, researchers noticed nearly straight lines of lightning strikes across the Indian Ocean and South China Sea.




By comparing the lightning data with maps of ships’ exhaust emissions they were able to show that there were nearly twice as many lightning strikes along the main shipping routes between Sri Lanka and Sumatra, and between Singapore and Vietnam.

This enhanced level of lightning was visible at least as far back as 2005.

Writing in Geophysical Research Letters, the researchers explain how the ship exhaust fumes add more particles to the air, which encourages more cloud droplets to form.

Because the cloud droplets are smaller and lighter than they would otherwise be they travel higher into the atmosphere and are more likely to reach the freezing line, so creating more ice particles.

Collision between ice particles causes storm clouds to electrify, and lightning is the atmosphere’s way of neutralising the built-up electric charge.

It’s one of the clearest examples of how humans are actually changing the intensity of storm processes on Earth through the emission of particulates from combustion,” said Joel Thornton, from the University of Washington, in Seattle, the lead author of the study.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: New Scientist

What Most People Don’t Get About Climate Change


You’ve probably heard a lot about climate change, and you’ve probably already picked a side in this debate. But things change when you look at it from a big picture perspective.

Visit Green Shortz and learn how to do your part to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. https://www.youtube.com/user/GreenTom…

Subscribe! http://www.answerswithjoe.com

Follow me @answerswithjoe

Snapchat

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Light Can ‘Heal’ Defects In New Solar Cell Materials

Now, a team of researchers at MIT and elsewhere say they have made significant inroads toward understanding a process for improving perovskites’ performance, by modifying the material using intense light.

The new findings are being reported in the journal Nature Communications, in a paper by Samuel Stranks, a researcher at MIT; Vladimir Bulovic, the Fariborz Maseeh (1990) Professor of Emerging Technology and associate dean for innovation; and eight colleagues at other institutions in the U.S. and the U.K.

The work is part of a major research effort on perovskite materials being led by Stranks, within MIT’s Organic and Nanostructured Electronics Laboratory.

Tiny defects in perovskite’s crystalline structure can hamper the conversion of light into electricity in a solar cell, but “what we’re finding is that there are some defects that can be healed under light,” says Stranks, who is a Marie Curie fellow jointly at MIT and Cambridge University in the U.K.




The tiny defects, called traps, can cause electrons to recombine with atoms before the electrons can reach a place in the crystal where their motion can be harnessed.

This is the first time this has been shown,” Stranks says, “where just under illumination, where no [electric or magnetic] field has been applied, we see this ion migration that helps to clean the film. It reduces the defect density.

While the effect had been observed before, this work is the first to show that the improvement was caused by the ions moving as a result of the illumination.

This work is focused on particular types of the material, known as organic-inorganic metal halide perovskites, which are considered promising for applications including solar cells, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), lasers, and light detectors.

They excel in a property called the photoluminescence quantum efficiency, which is key to maximizing the efficiency of solar cells.

But in practice, the performance of different batches of these materials, or even different spots on the same film, has been highly variable and unpredictable.

The new work was aimed at figuring out what caused these discrepancies and how to reduce or eliminate them.

Stranks explains that “the ultimate aim is to make defect-free films,” and the resulting improvements in efficiency could also be useful for applications in light emission as well as light capture.

Previous work reducing defects in thin-film perovskite materials has focused on electrical or chemical treatments, but “we find we can do the same with light,” Stranks says.

One advantage of that is that the same technique used to improve the material’s properties can at the same time be used as a sensitive probe to observe and better understand the behavior of these promising materials.

Another advantage of this light-based processing is it doesn’t require anything to come in physical contact with the film being treated — for example, there is no need to attach electrical contacts or to bathe the material in a chemical solution.

Instead, the treatment can simply be applied by turning on the source of illumination. The process, which they call photo-induced cleaning, could be “a way forward” for the development of useful perovskite-based devices, Stranks says.

The effects of the illumination tend to diminish over time, Stranks says, so “the challenge now is to maintain the effect” long enough to make it practical.

Some forms of perovskites are already “looking to be commercialized by next year,” he says, and this research “raises questions that need to be addressed, but it also shows there are ways to address” the phenomena that have been limiting this material’s performance.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: Popular Science

The World’s Parasites Are Going Extinct. Here’s Why That’s a Bad Thing

What if the world’s parasites suddenly went extinct? Given how much work we’ve put into combating malaria-carrying mosquitoes and horrifying Guinea worms, it sounds like a reason for celebration.

But think twice: Actually, losing these much-despised mooches, bloodsuckers and freeloaders could have disastrous consequences for the environment and human health.

A parasite, in essence, is any organism that makes its living off another organism.

These freeloaders have been rather successful: up to half of Earth’s 7.7 million known species are parasitic, and this lifestyle has evolved independently hundreds of times.




But in a study published this week in the journal Science Advances, researchers warn that climate change could drive up to one-third of Earth’s parasite species to extinction by the year 2070.

That kind of mass die-off could spell ecological disaster.

One thing we’ve learned about parasites in the past decade is that they’re a huge and important part of ecosystems that we’ve really neglected for years,” says Colin Carlson, a graduate student studying global change biology at the University of California at Berkeley and lead author on the study.

Carlson had experience researching how climate change is driving the current spate of species die-offs. But four years ago, he saw the potential to look into a lesser known group: parasites.

There has been a lot of work that’s been done in the late couple of decades focused on understanding why big mammals go extinct, or how crops respond to climate change,” Carlson says, “but there’s a lot of types of animals and plants that we don’t know a lot about.

He formed a team to find out more about how parasite species could feel the heat in the coming decades.

The team based their predictions for this research on a “deceptively simple model” from a landmark 2004 study in the journal Nature, which connected species extinction rates to how much of their habitat they’re expected to lose.

The problem is, we don’t know very much about where parasites live,” Carlson says.

The key to answering that question lay in the Smithsonian-run National Parasite Collection, a 125-year-old accumulation that contains more than 20 million parasite specimens from thousands of species dating back to the early 1800s—a massive yet still relatively small slice of global parasite diversity.

Carlson knew that the collection, which has specimens primarily from North America but represents every continent, could serve as a historical database from which to figure out estimates of geographic ranges for specific parasites.

So he reached out to the curator of the collection, research zoologist Anna Phillips, at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

The first step was to sort through a lot of old paper records. “Since this is such an old collection, many of these still used a precise locality written out, such as ‘this stream at this crossing of this highway, 10 miles down east of this town,” Phillips says. “While that’s very helpful, usually today we prefer to have GPS coordinates.

Her team of researchers digitzed tens of thousands of specimens and their locations in an online database, creating what Carlson calls the biggest parasite record of its kind.

Using this immense resource, researchers could then use computer models to predict what would happen to more than 450 different parasite species when climate change altered their habitats, based on how their ranges have changed over the past two centuries.

Their conclusion: Even under the most optimistic scenarios, roughly 10 percent of parasite species will go extinct by 2070. In the most dire version of events, fully one-third of all parasites could vanish.

This kind of die-off would have myriad unfortunate consequences. Consider that parasites play an important role in regulating the populations of their hosts and the balance of the overall ecosystem.

First, they kill off some organisms and make others vulnerable to predators. For example, when infected with nematode Trichostrongylus tenuis, the red grouse bird emits more scent that helps predators find and eat it more easily, thus serving to control the bird’s population.

Parasites can also have more indirect effects. Periwinkle snails infected with the trematode species Cryptocotylelingua, for instance, eat significantly less algae along their Atlantic coast homes, because the parasite weakens their digestive tracts.

Their small appetites make more algae available for other species to consume. And there are millions of undiscovered parasite species, whose ecological niches we can only guess at.

It’s hard to predict what their impact on the ecosystem will be if we don’t know about it yet,” says Phillips. “That’s one of the things that’s scariest about these model predictions … it creates a much more urgent feeling about the recognizing the diversity that’s out there.

In the future, she and Carlson hope to do further analysis using this new database at finer scales, to predict how certain parasites will fare in different regions under climate change.

They expect that, like many organisms, parasite species that are better able to migrate and adapt to new habitats will do better than those that are more tied to certain places.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: Popular Science

How Pollution Makes Bigger Thunderstorms

Pollution causes taller and bigger anvil-shaped clouds, say experts.

Pollution makes thunderstorms worse by creating bigger, longer lasting clouds and cooling temperatures with their shadows, according to experts.

Computer simulations of cloud data from the western Pacific, south eastern China and Oklahoma showed pollution increased their size, thickness and duration.

Taking a closer look at the properties of water droplets and ice crystals within, the researchers found pollution resulted in smaller droplets and ice crystals regardless of location.

In clean skies ice particles were heavier and fell faster causing the clouds to dissipate. But in polluted skies they were smaller and too light to drop leading to the larger clouds.




Dr. Jiwen Fan, of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington, said: “This study reconciles what we see in real life to what computer models show us.”

Observations consistently show taller and bigger anvil-shaped clouds in storm systems with pollution.

A polluted sky has many more aerosols – natural and manmade particles – making more but smaller cloud droplets.

Researchers have long believed smaller droplets start a chain reaction that leads to bigger, longer-lasting clouds.

Instead of raining down, the lighter droplets carry their water higher, where they freeze. The freezing squeezes out the heat the droplets carry with them and causes the thunder cloud to become draftier.

Dr. Fan said: “Modelling the details of cloud microphysical properties is very computationally intensive so models don’t usually include them.

Polluted clouds have an effect on temperatures, with afternoon thunderstorms lasting long into the night rather than dissipating and trapping heat like a blanket.

In the day the clouds’ shadows diminish sunlight penetration and so keep the Earth cooler.

Accounting for pollution effects on storm clouds could affect the ultimate amount of warming predicted for the earth in the next few decades.

Accurately representing clouds in climate models is key to improving the accuracy of predicted changes to the climate.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: Popular Science