Archive for August, 2013

Cutting soot, methane, not much of a fix for climate change, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: August 12, 2013   View Article

Cutting short-lived emissions such as soot spewed from trucks and methane belched from cattle will do little as a short-term fix for global warming, a new study says.

Previous modeling work indicated that such cuts could shave about 1 degree Fahrenheit from human-caused warming by 2050, enough to buy the world time to wrench the energy economy away from oil, coal and natural gas — major sources of the long-term heat-trapping gas carbon dioxide.

To feed 4 billion more, skip meat, milk and eggs, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: August 5, 2013   View Article

The lab-grown burger taste-tested Monday in London is billed as one way to avert a looming food crisis by freeing up the agricultural resources used to feed billions of cattle each year. Another way to avert the crisis is to stop eating animal products altogether, according to a recent study.

In fact, “we find that doing a complete radical shift away from grain-fed animals, and stop producing biofuels, that you can increase calorie availability enough for 4 billion people,” Emily Cassidy, a researcher at the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, told NBC News.

Scientists declare: ‘Human activities are changing Earth’s climate’

Publication: NBC News   Date: August 5, 2013   View Article

With more confidence than ever before, a prominent scientific body put the blame for global climate change squarely at the feet of humanity’s insatiable appetite for fossil fuels, which release heat-trapping gases when burned.

“There is only one thing that is going straight up … that is the greenhouse gases that we are just pumping at an exponential rate,” Gerald North, an atmospheric scientist at Texas A&M University who chaired the committee responsible for the statement, told NBC News.

Fracking and energy exploration connected to earthquakes, say studies

Publication: NBC News   Date: July 11, 2013   View Article

The rivers of water pumped into and out of the ground during the production of natural gas, oil and geothermal energy are causing the Earth to shake more frequently in areas where these industrial activities are soaring, according to a series of studies published today.

While the gas extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing (aka “fracking”) causes some small quakes, it’s the disposal of wastewater following that process — and many others relating to energy production — that lead to the largest tremors.

“Fortunately, there have been no deaths and damage has been limited to date, but it is obviously of concern to people as we think about the future of the energy economy,” William Ellsworth, a seismologist with the United States Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif., told NBC News.

Hot and bothered: Climate change amplifies violence, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: August 1, 2013   View Article

As the planet’s climate changes, humans everywhere should brace for a spike in violence, a new study suggests. Civilization as we know it may even be at risk.

The dramatic finding comes from a synthesis of several dozen studies that examine the relationship between climate and conflict. The studies cover most regions of the world and points in time over the past 10,000 years. Across all, the findings are consistent: changes in temperature or rainfall amplify violence.

“As long as future populations continue to respond to climatic events the same way … we should probably expect an amplification of interpersonal and intergroup conflict moving forward,” Solomon Hsiang, a public policy researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, told NBC News.

Move over corn, a new source of ethanol is in town

Publication: NBC News   Date: August 1, 2013   View Article

Commercial quantities of the alternative fuel ethanol are being produced from wood waste and other vegetative matter, a chemical company announced Wednesday. The milestone holds potential to curb the controversial practice of using corn kernels to brew the fuel that is commonly mixed with gasoline.

Several companies have been racing in recent years to develop the technology required to produce ethanol from cellulose — the woody parts of plants — and many are close to firing up commercial facilities. INEOS Bio is at the finish line.

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