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Latest Global Warming Articles

Why Google's climate change action matters

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April 26, 2011

Patrick Thibodeau | Computerworld

Google is addressing global warming by cutting its greenhouse gas emissions. It recently announced an agreement to buy 100 MW of power from an Oklahoma wind farm, one of a number of things that Google has done to reduce its environmental impact.

But what Google is doing is not enough.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are rising steadily and have reached 392 ppm (parts per million). Some argue that the safe upper limit is 350 ppm.

The science is clear about the connection between rising carbon levels and planet temperatures. What is less clear is how the climate system will respond to it, and what the tipping points will be.

Will arctic ice melting (illustration above is from the National Snow and Ice Data Center) amplify the melting of Greenland's ice and speed sea level rise?

Will warming in the arctic result in release of methane gas trapped in permafrost? Will a warmer arctic increase droughts in some areas and flooding in others?

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Green Tips: The Importance of Planting Trees

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April 23, 2011

Betsy Wild | Winchester Patch

The social, communal and environmental benefits of trees are numerous. 

They manufacture oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. They provide shade in summer and windbreak in winter. The beauty and serenity of trees have been shown to help hospital patients recover more quickly. Trees reduce crime in low-income urban areas and increase property values. Trees help us save energy, improve air quality, conserve water and provide homes to wildlife. Large and majestic trees are a major asset to any community.   

American Forests states that the national urban tree deficit now stands at more than 634 million trees. 

Unprecedented environmental stresses and urban sprawl are making it more difficult for trees to grow and flourish in today’s world. Because trees offset our carbon footprint, or the amount of energy a person consumes in their day-to-day activities, it is more important than ever to plant trees. 

The average person produces 26 tons of CO2 per year. Six 25-year-old pine trees absorb one ton of CO2. Thirty-six 25-year-old maple trees absorb one ton of CO2.  And, according to my husband the arborist, everyone should have planted 250 trees by the age of 40.

Planting trees is a way for people to give back to the environment for future generations and offset the damage done by their carbon footprint. Spring is the perfect time to plant a tree, or if you prefer, there are organizations like americanforests.org or erasecarbonfootprint.com where with a small donation they will plant a tree in your name.

 

Guardian Sustainable Business Investors put pressure on companies to reduce carbon

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April 4, 2011

Paul Dickinson | Guardian UK

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is an extremely exciting piece of news because collectively, international corporations are such a vast economic block, that stimulating them to make core changes in their emmissions contributions will have a significant "trickle down" effect, leading to increased access of tools and technologies for smaller companies and individuals downstream.

Carbon management is moving to the forefront of business. With rising energy prices and increasing resource scarcity, the efficient management of energy is now critical. Cost and risk factors are not alone in pushing this issue up the boardroom agenda. Companies must also consider other issues such as brand reputation, employee expectations and competitive positioning.

Another strategic driver for the efficient management of carbon in the corporate world is when a company's shareholders request it. Improved management of energy and lower carbon emissions help investors to mitigate financial risk in their portfolios. It also has the potential to reduce costs for business, so companies do not need to choose between reducing emissions or higher financial returns.

This is the purpose of a new investor-led initiative that the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) launched today. A vanguard group of 34 institutional investors with US$7.6 trillion in assets including Aviva Investors, CCLA Investment Management and Scottish Widows Investment Partnership are this week calling on the world's largest companies to implement cost effective greenhouse gas emissions reduction initiatives.

Investors request action from companies in the reduction of their greenhouse gas emissions in order to protect their investments. According to Steve Waygood, head of sustainability, research and engagement at Aviva Investors, a founding signatory investor to Carbon Action, "We believe that the external costs of greenhouse gas emissions will become internalised into company cash flows and profitability. We encourage companies to consider what action that they can take now to reduce emissions."

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Climate Change Understanding Falls Along Political Lines

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April 22, 2011

Jeanna Bryner | LiveScience

While public opinion on climate change might be polarized, it's a stark contrast to the scientific community's unified stance regarding the warming of our planet. The latest research finds public understanding of the issue falls along political party lines, with Republicans most often saying Earth's climate is either not changing or agreeing it is changing -- but that those changes are due to natural causes.

Democrats, on the other hand, most often agreed that the climate is changing now due mainly to human activities. The research is published in a report put out by the University of New Hampshire's Carsey Institute and announced this week.

"Although there remains active discussion among scientists on many details about the pace and effects of climate change, no leading science organization disagrees that human activities are now changing the Earth's climate," said study researcher Lawrence Hamilton, professor of sociology and senior fellow with the Carsey Institute. "The strong scientific agreement on this point contrasts with the partisan disagreement seen on all of our surveys."

The reason may have to do with where we get our information on climate change, which Hamilton suggests is not scientists, but instead through news media, political activists, friends and other nonscience sources.

"People increasingly choose news sources that match their own views. Moreover, they tend to selectively absorb information even from this biased flow, fitting it into their pre-existing beliefs," Hamilton said. (For instance, a study published in 2009 in the journal Communications Research showed that college students chose news sources that matched their views on abortion and gun ownership issues.)

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Here's How You Can Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

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April 20, 2011

Lee Dye | ABC News

Do you know your carbon footprint? Probably not, unless you are incredibly well informed about the many factors that determine how much impact you will leave on this planet during your journey through life. And now researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have added a new level of complexity to the problem.

One size does not fit all. What works for Uncle Billy in Plaintown, Nebraska, probably won't work for you.

Lifestyle, family income and even age all contribute to a wide variation in the size of an individual's carbon footprint.

Researchers Christopher Jones and Daniel Kammen of Berkeley's Energy and Resources Group have tried to make it easier for a family or an individual to come up with a reasonable estimate of how many tons of carbon they contribute each year.

"Everyone has a unique carbon footprint," said Jones, lead author of the study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. The researchers studied all 50 states and 28 metropolitan areas to determine which strategies would work best in each of those areas.

The bottom line: it is possible to reduce a carbon footprint and save money at the same time. It may not be a huge difference, but multiplied by potentially millions of concerned citizens it could add up to a major impact.

Berkeley Scientists Create Online Carbon Calculator

Jones and Kammen have created a "carbon calculator" that is available to anyone at coolclimate.berkeley.edu. The calculator asks the visitor a few questions and determines which actions would likely lead to the greatest reduction in the size of the footprint.

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Apple named 'least green' tech company

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April 21, 2011

Felicity Carus | Guardian UK

EDITOR'S NOTE: This tag line really grabbed my attention:

Greenpeace report puts Apple at bottom of green league table due to reliance on coal at data centres.

We rarely, if ever consider the impact of our computer usage, so this new report sheds some light on just how much using sites like Apple, Google and Facebook contributes to climate-changing pollution. 

    Apple has come bottom of the most comprehensive green league table of technology companies because of its heavy reliance on "dirty data" centres.

    The list, which is compiled by Greenpeace and released in San Francisco on Thursday, shows that the company relies heavily on highly polluting coal power at the sites that house its banks of servers.

    Greenpeace's report, How Dirty is Your Data? reveals that the company's investment in a new North Carolina facility will triple its electricity consumption, equivalent to the electricity demand of 80,000 average US homes. The facility's power will be supplied by Duke Energy, with a mix of 62% coal and 32% nuclear. On Wednesday, Apple posted a large boost in quarterly earnings, which grew by 95% to $6bn (£3.65bn).

    Gary Cook, Greenpeace's IT policy analyst and lead author of the report, said: "Consumers want to know that when they upload a video or change their Facebook status that they are not contributing to global warming or future Fukushimas."

    Companies in the US are not required by law to disclose their energy use or carbon emissions. But Greenpeace drew on publicly available information on investments made in data centres, to estimate the maximum power these facilities will consume, and matched that information with data from the government or utilities.

    The report estimated dependence on coal for Apple's data centres at 54.5%, followed by Facebook at 53.2%, IBM at 51.6%, HP at 49.4%, and Twitter at 42.5%. Top marks in Greenpeace's clean energy index went to Yahoo, followed by Google and Amazon. Greenpeace is also campaigning for Facebook to "unfriend coal" and use cleaner energy to power its servers.

    Read the rest...

 

Teens Get Failing Grade on Understanding Climate Change

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April 18, 2011

Jennifer Welsh | LiveScience

Only one-fourth of American teenagers receive a passing grade on their climate change awareness and understanding, says a new poll from Yale University.

Only about half of teens accurately believe climate change is occurring, and even of those not many understand why. Overall, 54 percent of teens received a failing grade, compared with 46 percent of adults. Only 6 percent of teens polled have an A or B level of understanding of climate change, while 41 percent have C or D grade.

The study polled 517 American middle- and high-school students, and 1,513 adults from homes throughout the country. Participants were asked about various facts regarding climate change. Scores of about 90 percent correct got an A, those between 80 and 89 got a B, between 70 and 79 got a C (passing grades), while those between 60 and 69 got a D and those below 59 got an F (failing grades).

Misconceptions and limited understanding

Many of the teens polled had serious misconceptions about the causes of and solutions to climate change, which led some of them to doubt its occurrence, humanity's involvement in the process or to understand its causes and solutions.

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UN Offers $10,000 Prize For Best Climate Change App

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April 13, 2011

Matthew McDermott | Treehugger

Now creating a great app won't exactly stop global warming--unless perhaps it manages to convince governments and corporations to get off their collective arses and actually do something meaningful about greenhouse gas emissions--but $10,000 is what the UN's International Telecommunication Union is offering. Sponsored by Research In Motion and Telefónica, the contest hopes to take climate-related apps beyond carbon footprinting and help them "move to the next stage".

I wonder if they're aware that there already good apps focusing on their example areas of: Energy efficiency, smart buildings, community engagement, eco-design. Apps to monitor climate change, measure greenhouse gas emissions, and on ways to adapt to climate change are also suggested areas where more could be done, and at least there I'd agree.

Perhaps ITU needs to take a look at Skeptical Science's app focused on climate science and arguing with a climate skeptic, now over a year old? Retroactive prize award?

Want your shot at the 10 grand? Here are the official details:

Contestants are asked to submit a detailed concept paper with an explanation of how their idea helps combat climate change and provides an ICT solution to environmental or sustainability issues. Entries may be any kind of software tool or game, be it for the web, a personal computer or a mobile device. The closing date for entries is 17:00 CET, 17 June, 2011.

Rules and entry requirements are at: Green ICT Application Challenge

 

 
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