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   PoliticsThe Exxon Free Environmental Thread


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To: Wharf Rat who wrote (1602)11/27/2007 11:53:18 AM
From: Ron
   of 43918
 
Google Announces Renewable-Energy Plan
Associated Press

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) - Online search engine operator Google Inc. said Tuesday it will invest in developing ways to generate electricity from renewable energy sources that will be less expensive than electricity generated from coal.

In a statement, the company predicted spending "tens of millions" in research and development and other renewable-energy investments in 2008. Google added that it expects to invest "hundreds of millions of dollars" in renewable-energy projects.

"Our goal is to produce one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity that is cheaper than coal. We are optimistic this can be done in years, not decades," Google co-founder Larry Page said in the statement.

The initiative is dubbed "Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal," and Google said it will look at environmentally friendly energy sources such as advanced solar thermal power, wind power and enhanced geothermal systems.

The work will be done through Google's philanthropic unit, Google.org.

Google.org is currently working with solar thermal power company eSolar Inc. and wind power company Makani Power Inc.

Page is scheduled to speak in a conference call at noon EST Tuesday to talk about the plan's launch, along with company executives Larry Brilliant and Bill Weihl.

news.moneycentral.msn.com

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To: Ron who wrote (1603)11/28/2007 9:47:43 AM
From: Wharf Rat
   of 43918
 
Sometimes I wish I had big money so I could do things like that.
==
Indonesia at high risk to climate change: WWF Wed Nov 28, 4:27 AM ET


JAKARTA (AFP) - Indonesia is one of the nations most vulnerable to climate change and is already feeling some of the consequences of global warming, environmental group WWF said Wednesday in a new report.


The report, which cites an array of studies, said that annual rainfall in the archipelago nation has fallen by two to three percent, while average temperatures have risen by 0.3 degrees Celsius (33 degrees Fahrenheit).

A high population density -- the nation is the fourth most populous in the world -- coupled with some 80,000 kilometres (50,000 miles) of coastline, left it extremely at risk from rises in global temperatures, WWF said.

Global sea levels are rising at about two millimetres per year and are projected to accelerate to a rate of about five millimetres annually over the next century.

"A change of this magnitude will undoubtedly result in significant losses of Indonesia's... coastline and thousands of islands and the associated marine resources," the report said.

Fitrian Ardiansyah, director of WWF-Indonesia's climate and energy programme, said in a statement that the impact would be widespread.

"As rainfall decreases during critical times of the year this translates into higher drought risk, consequently a decrease in crop yields, economic instability and drastically more undernourished people," he said.

"This will undo Indonesia's progress against poverty and food insecurity."

The report concludes that Indonesia needs to draft ways to address climate change.

Indonesia is hosting a UN conference on climate change that kicks off next week on the resort island of Bali.

At the meeting, nations will attempt to lay the groundwork for an agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions after the current phase of the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012.

"The Indonesian government must take its role seriously and lead the way in the fight against global climate change," Mubariq Ahmad, WWF-Indonesia's director, said in the statement.

The WWF report closely mirrored another study released this week by the UN Development Programme, which warned that Indonesia's poor would be most affected by climate change.

news.yahoo.com

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To: Wharf Rat who wrote (1604)11/28/2007 10:10:28 AM
From: Wharf Rat
   of 43918
 
Lot of stories...
The Earth and Energy Round-Up: November 28th 2007
Posted by Stoneleigh on November 28, 2007 - 6:22am in The Oil Drum: Canada
canada.theoildrum.com

We Face Worldwide Drought with No Contingency Plan
The Myth of Canada's Water Abundance
Autumn Rain Down 90 Percent in China Rice Belt

etc,etc

====

Arctic area `torn to pieces' as heat triggers landslides

Upheaval serves as warning about climate change as northern ecosystem suffers, researchers say

Oct 03, 2007 04:30 AM
Peter Calamai
Science Writer

Queen's University researchers watched in awe and dismay this summer as landslides blamed on climate change mangled wide swaths of a remote Arctic valley in mere hours.

"When a week was up the landscape had been torn to pieces in dozens of places. We were surprised by both the speed and the scale of the changes," said geography professor Scott Lamoureux.

He warned that such large-scale environmental upheaval could throw fragile Arctic ecosystems off-kilter by interfering with the flow of vital organic material and nutrients carried by water during the brief summer months.

"We expected this would happen in the future to some extent but to see it taking place already is a bit of a shock," Lamoureux said.

Lamoureux leads a Queen's University research team probing the impact of climate change on water quality in a 20-square-kilometre region at the southern end of Melville Island in the western Arctic.

The study began in 2003 and this spring expanded to include scientists from the University of Toronto.

The findings sound a warning for other areas of the Arctic, some warmer than the Melville Island locale.

Federal government surveys have concluded permafrost lies beneath about half the land mass of Canada, extending as much as 700 metres deep in the Arctic archipelago.

Lamoureux said the landslides were triggered in the last week of July after unprecedented high summer temperatures caused the permafrost on Melville to melt down as far as a metre, 20 times deeper than normal.

This excess water acted like a layer of ball bearings, letting the soil on top slide down the valley slopes.

"It was like a rug coming down and then piling up in the river channel in folds.

"Along one 200-metre stretch, it shifted the entire river bed to the other side," Lamoureux said.

Records going back to the 1950s show daytime highs averaging about 5C in July, but this past summer, temperatures regularly reached 15C and sometimes 20C, Lamoureux said.

"There were dozens of these slow-motion landslides. You couldn't see them move over a period of minutes, but they covered 50 or 60 metres in a day.

"One flowed down a good two kilometres from a ridge to the valley floor," he said.

The ecological upheaval most probably continued after the Queen's researchers left on Aug. 1, Lamoureux said, but he has been unsuccessful in obtaining satellite images to check on the final extent of the damage.

The geography professor said having before and after measurements of water flow and quality from the site is "scientific serendipity."

"From an experimental standpoint, we couldn't ask for a better situation," he said.

Also excited by the development is U of T professor Myrna Simpson, a specialist in environmental chemistry who joined the Melville Island project this year when the federal government provided nearly $700,000 as part of International Polar Year funding.

In her lab on the university's Scarborough campus, Simpson analyzes how carbon-based organic material ages differently in the Arctic compared to temperate zones.

"We're learning a lot of really new things," she said.
thestar.com

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To: Wharf Rat who wrote (1605)11/28/2007 10:13:17 AM
From: Wharf Rat
   of 43918
 
More than a billion trees planted in 2007: UN by Bogonko Bosire
1 hour, 33 minutes ago


NAIROBI (AFP) - More than one billion trees were planted around the world in 2007, with Ethiopia and Mexico leading in the drive to combat climate change through new lush forest projects, a UN report said Wednesday.


The Nairobi-based UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said the mass tree planting, inspired by Nobel Peace laureate Wangari Maathai, will help mitigate effects of pollution and environmental deterioration.

"An initiative to catalyze the pledging and the planting of one billion trees has achieved and indeed surpassed its mark. It is a further sign of the breathtaking momentum witnessed this year on the challenge for this generation -- climate change," UNEP chief Achim Steiner said in a statement.

"Millions if not billions of people around this world want an end to pollution and environmental deterioration and have rolled up their sleeves and got their hands dirty to prove the point," he added.

UNEP said the total number of trees planted is still being collated, but developing countries top the list with more than 700 million and 217 million planted in Ethiopia and Mexico respectively.

Ethiopia's high demand for fuelwood and land for cropping and grazing has slashed its forest cover from about 35 percent of its landmass in the early 20th century to just 4.2 percent by 2000, environmentalist say.

Others planters include: Turkey 150 million, Kenya 100 million, Cuba 96.5 million, Rwanda 50 million, South Korea 43 million, Tunisia 21 million, Morocco 20 million, Myanmar 20 million and Brazil 16 million.

Maathai's Green Belt Movement planted 4.7 million trees, double the number it had initially pledged, according to UNEP. The army has participated in re-afforestation drives in Kenya and Mexico.

Indonesia, which will next month host the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is expected to plant almost 80 million trees in one day alone in the run up to the Bali climate meeting.

UNEP said China, Guatemala and Spain are expected soon to announce new plantings of millions of trees.

Experts says that trees help absorb carbon contained in the heat-trapping gases blamed for climate change, which are largely generated by human activity and are one of the most perilous environmental challenges in the modern world.

The UNEP report sends a powerful message ahead of the December 3-14 meeting in Bali of the UNFCCC, a panel charting the path for negotiating pollution cuts to be implemented after 2012 when the Kyoto Protocol pledges run out.

"We called you to action almost exactly a year ago and you responded beyond our dreams," said Maathai, who won the 2004 Nobel Peace prize for her campaign to plant tens of millions of trees to counter tree-loss and desertification in Africa.

"Now we must keep the pressure on and continue the good work for the planet," Maathai said in the statement.

The Nairobi-based World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), which co-organised the campaign, said the success indicated that environment can be rescued by afforestration.

"This milestone shows clearly that the global community has the spirit and the substance to unite in achieving ambitious targets to create a better environment for all," said ICRAF Director General Dennis Garrity.

The UNEP, citing its credible tracking system, said 1.56 billion trees have been planted around the world, but had so far received pledges of 2.24 billion trees.

The mass planting, carried by governments, communities, corporations and individuals, will continue despite surpassing the one billion mark, the agency said.
news.yahoo.com

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To: Wharf Rat who wrote (1606)11/28/2007 10:15:18 AM
From: Wharf Rat
   of 43918
 
Ice, ice, maybe (not)
Must-see ice-sheet TV
Posted by Joseph Romm at 1:27 AM on 28 Nov 2007

Do you want the latest data -- some not yet published -- and the best post-IPCC scientific predictions on the stunning collapse of Arctic ice and unexpected shrinking of the Greenland (and Antarctic) ice sheets? Then you should definitely watch this C-SPAN video of yesterday's American Meteorological Society seminar (see note on link below).

The seminar is by three of the world's top cryosphere experts: Dr. Mark Serreze (NOAA), Scott Luthcke (NASA), and Dr. Konrad Steffen (CIRES) -- full bios and program summary available here. I will post their presentations when AMS puts them online (which will be here).

I have spent a great deal of time studying the ice and sea-level-rise issue (see links below) and still found the presentations informative and startling. It is very safe to say the Arctic Sea will be essentially ice-free by 2030, and I'd personally bet on 2020 -- any takers?

The most interesting presentation to me was the last one, by Konrad Steffen, who made a convincing case that the IPCC is "underestimating the rate of sea level rise" this century significantly. He expects one meter or more by 2100. The modelers are busy at work trying to account for ice dynamics in ice-sheet collapse -- but it may take four or five years for them to do that. When they are finished, sea-level-rise estimates for this century are likely to double or triple.

So watch the full video as soon as you can, since I don't know how long the link provided above will be good.

Note to C-SPAN: Please set up permalinks -- rather than making people go to C-SPAN.org and click on "Featured Topics -- Energy" -- and hope the desired video is still there!

This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
gristmill.grist.org

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To: Wharf Rat who wrote (1607)11/28/2007 10:23:12 AM
From: Wharf Rat
   of 43918
 
Autumn Rain Down 90 Percent in China Rice Belt
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



CHINA: November 21, 2007


BEIJING - Large areas of south China are suffering from serious drought, with water levels on two major rivers in rice-growing provinces dropping to historic lows, state media said on Tuesday.


Rainfall since the beginning of October had dropped by 90 percent in Jiangxi and 86 percent in neighbouring Hunan, the country's largest rice-growing province, from average figures, Xinhua news agency said.
Rice is a staple for most Chinese and a crop which needs a constant supply of water

The Gan and Xiang rivers running through the two provinces had seen their lowest water levels in history, Xinhua said. The shallow water has caused a jam of barges in some sections of the Gan.

Authorities had rushed to ensure drinking water supplies in big cities along the rivers and irrigation of fields by diverting water from reservoirs and installing pumps, Xinhua said.

Water levels on China's longest river, the Yangtze, and on the Pearl River in the southern province of Guangdong had also dropped, Xinhua said.

Drought and floods are perennial problems in China where meteorologists have complained about the increased extreme weather, partly blaming it on climate change.

More than 1,100 Chinese were killed during summer floods this year.

But some parts of the south were hit by weeks of scorching heat and drought in the summer, when as much as a third of farmland was damaged and millions of people were short of drinking water.

It was not immediately clear how much damage had been caused to the rice crop.

The China National Grain and Oils Information Centre early this month estimated rice production this year would rise by 2 percent to 186.5 million tonnes. (Reporting by Guo Shipeng and Niu Shuping, editing by Nick Macfie)
planetark.org

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To: Wharf Rat who wrote (1608)11/28/2007 10:24:58 AM
From: Wharf Rat
   of 43918
 
Another one bites the dust
Coal plant application rejected in Washington
Posted by David Roberts at 5:40 PM on 27 Nov 2007

Another coal plant application denied. This one was stiffed because of a law Washington passed this year requiring that coal plant proposals include plans for carbon sequestration or, if that's not possible, plans to purchase offsets in a commensurate amount. But you gotta start with the sequestration plan, and the application from Energy Northwest didn't have one. Said the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC):

"The principal flaw in the (Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan) is its failure to present a plan to achieve geological sequestration. It does not detail specific actions (Energy Northwest) will take ... (Energy Northwest's) GGRP fails to meet the plain language of the statute -- it is a plan to prepare a plan at some indefinite later date."
One can't help but speculate that the reason Energy Northwest didn't include a CCS plan is that it didn't want something on paper demonstrating to its investors that its capital costs were going to be enormous and the power produced well above market rates. Remember, coal: cheap or clean, but never both.
gristmill.grist.org

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To: Wharf Rat who wrote (1609)11/28/2007 10:30:46 AM
From: Wharf Rat
   of 43918
 
The escalator effect
Emma Marris

Rising temperatures are changing mountain ecosystems as the heat forces some species upwards — until there is nowhere left to go. Emma Marris reports on the 'escalator effect', which is threatening species worldwide.

Rising temperatures are changing mountain ecosystems as the heat forces species upwards and towards extinction.
For four years, butterfly net in hand, Robert Jon Wilson tramped up and down the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains in central Spain, tracking the shift in butterfly ranges as rising temperatures steadily heated the hillsides.

At the base of the mountains, Madrillenos fleeing the summer heat of the city relax on the weekends. Above them lies deciduous oak forest where horses and cattle graze. Further up, this gives way to pine forest and then alpine grasslands. Wilson recalls his fieldwork in these pleasant surroundings as "bittersweet". Despite the seemingly untouched landscapes, he found that butterfly species' ranges have crept up the mountain by an average of 200 metres since they were mapped 35 years ago. Species already living on the mountain tops are now shifting off the peaks into thin air — that is, they are going extinct. Apollo butterflies (Parnassius apollo) in the Sierra de Guadarramas, for example, are restricted to north-facing slopes above 1,300 metres1. That's not a lot of real estate.

Too hot to handle

"We were quite shocked by how dramatic these changes have been," says Wilson, who is now at the University of Exeter. "I feel very privileged to have seen those species and habitats while many of them are still here."

The biological world is changing because of global warming. Most non-specialists are familiar with poleward shifts — migration routes and species distributions that are creeping north in the Northern Hemisphere and south in the Southern Hemisphere as the equator-facing edges of these historic ranges become too hot for species to handle.

The same phenomenon is happening in three dimensions, though there is less data and less media coverage for these upward trends. As the climate warms, there is a corresponding increase in temperature at any given elevation. And any species unable to take the heat — or related changes in, for example, precipitation — will generally move up the mountain towards colder climes, until they reach the top.

Complicating the picture is the observation that not all species adjust to temperature shifts at the same rate. Bird species may flee uncomfortably hot altitudes far before a tree-line shifts uphill. And many species may move not because they can't take the temperatures themselves, but because of the impact of climate change on other species they rely on, or because the creeping heat favours pathogens that kill them off.

"I am most concerned about species' communities being torn apart," says Stanford ecologist Terry Root. "It is all going to be quite a mishmash of things."

In the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains in central Spain, butterfly species' ranges have shifted upwards by an average of 200 metres since the 1970s.

Robert J. Wilson
In the case of Wilson's butterflies, many of them have left areas that still contain the plants on which they feed in the caterpillar stage. Wilson's group probed what was pushing the butterflies uphill by bringing some eggs of the black-veined white butterfly (Aporia crataegi) from 900 metres, where the species is found now, down to 600 metres, where it used to be seen in the 1960s and 70s. Even when the eggs were placed on shrubs like blackthorn and hawthorn, their traditional hosts, they all died. Wilson suspects that the heat killed them directly.

About fifteen years ago, according to biologist Camille Parmesan of the University of Texas, Austin, experts argued over what kinds of effects climate change would have on species. The only thing they could agree on in those early days, she says, was that "Mountain restricted species and other species that had very strict range limitations would be in trouble."

Amassing evidence

The years since have borne out this prediction. Two kinds of evidence attest to the escalator effect, where species move steadily upward in altitude in response to a parallel shift in their climatic habitat. The first is a limited number of studies comparing species' ranges over the years and, ideally, proposing mechanisms for observed shifts. Wilson's mountain-climbing butterflies fit into this category, as do tree-lines on the move in Siberia and the Canadian Rockies. And similar trends are being observed across mountain woodlands in Queensland, Australia, where heat-stressed tree possums are literally falling out of the trees.

Yet another example is the American pika, a fur-ball of a rodent that lives in high mountains in the American west. The US Center for Biological Diversity is petitioning the government to list the pika as endangered as a result of climate change. They cite data showing that lower-elevation populations are disappearing. The pika is well known to be intolerant of heat; experiments in the 1970s showed that just a few hours in 27 °C heat can strike them dead.

More complex is the case of harlequin frogs in the mountains of Costa Rica. They don't move up, but they are clearly becoming extinct in a pattern that matches changes in global climate. A current hypothesis is that they fall prey to a nasty fungus that benefits from complex changes in microclimate. The frogs stay put, but the pathogen explodes in their range, thanks to ideal growth conditions caused by climate change, including cloudiness, daytime cooling and night-time warming2.

Alan Pounds of the Golden Toad Laboratory for Conservation at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve and Tropical Science Center, in Costa Rica, put the pieces together to form that hypothesis. He has worked in Central America since the 1980s, and says that changing patterns in biodiversity are evident all around him. "We can see it ourselves when we walk outside," he says. "It used to be that at a certain point you could hear one bird calling up-slope and another calling down-slope, and those patterns have changed."

Our best guess is that climate change effects, exacerbated by habitat loss, will result in about 400–550 land bird extinctions by 2100, based on a 2.8 °C warming

Cagan Sekercioglu
The other kind of evidence comes from global models that estimate how many species may be in danger of extinction. Using the notion of a 'climate envelope', these models often describe the known range of a species by some more or less arbitrarily chosen climate markers, such as hottest month, coldest day of the year and seasonal rainfall.

Models based on various warming scenarios can then be used to predict how climate patterns over land will change in the future. For some species, the climate envelope that surrounds them moves decorously poleward or upward through undeveloped land, and the species can be assumed to move with it. Often, though, the climate envelope moves into a developed area or off the top of a mountain, and the model then assumes that the species will become extinct.

Extinction risk

Lower-elevation populations of the American pika, a species intolerant of heat, are disappearing owing to climate change.

John J. Mosesso
The most famous of these models looked at both poleward and upward movement and predicted that between 15% and 37% of species will be 'committed to extinction' by 2050. That is, some individuals may remain, but not enough for the species to recover3.

The paper was criticized by some biologists, however, for combining models that relied on different assumptions and methods. Miguel B. Araújo, a biologist at el Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales in Madrid, worries that the method could give an inaccurate estimate. "If you choose different statistical techniques to model the range shifts you get different results — you might get a 300% expansion or 100% contraction for the same species." He says, "They used projections in different parts of the world with different techniques and lumped them all together. They may be right, but it is just a guess."

The contentious model's first author, Chris Thomas of the University of Leeds, says the critics misinterpreted the paper's aims. "Most people have been totally over-interpreting it," he says. "Before we started, people talked about climate changes causing species to go extinct, and we wondered, 'what percent?' It was an order of magnitude question, and the answer was on the order of 10, rather than 1."

While Araújo argues that current methods just aren't good enough to come up with useful numbers on a global scale, Thomas believes that models such as his are good for gross analysis of trends — but that's as far as they go. "You can't trust the projection as a prognosis for an individual species," he says. And, as is often the case with complex systems, the escalator effect does not work independently. "I would personally expect climate change to have its most severe effects as a result of the interaction between habitat loss, climate change and invasive species," says Thomas.

Despite all of these caveats, many scientists feel that modelling is a compelling way of estimating the magnitude of climate effects on species. Cagan Sekercioglu, conservation biologist at Stanford University, hopes that his newly published model of bird extinctions4 will help convince the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) — the body that compiles the international 'Red List' of threatened species — to consider threats from climate change when evaluating the status of a species.

Prepared with three co-authors, including Stanford climatologist Stephen Schneider, the analysis found that hundreds of birds could go extinct owing to the escalator effect. "Our best guess is that climate change effects, exacerbated by habitat loss, will result in about 400–550 land bird extinctions by 2100, based on a 2.8 °C warming," says Sekercioglu. Just 21% of birds predicted to go extinct under the model are on the IUCN Red List.

Sekercioglu is a researcher at Stanford, but he is more likely to be found nearly anywhere else in the world where there are birds. Speaking from a field site in Ethiopia, where hyenas while away the midday watching Sekercioglu and his team band birds, he says that the extinctions he's predicting are new. "These extinctions will be in addition to the ones currently predicted," he says. "This analysis shows that quantitatively. We are hoping that elevational range will be adopted by the IUCN as another flag to predict which species may be threatened due to climate change."

Because of the global nature of climate change, there is not much that can be done about this effect at the local level. But that hasn't stopped some conservation biologists from being creative. "You can't make the mountain grow bigger, but you could think about moving species to another mountaintop that is either higher or further north," says Parmesan. "Some say, 'Well then you are introducing alien species.' The counter argument is, 'Well, should we just watch them die?'"

Emma Marris is a correspondent for Nature based in Columbia, Missouri.

Top of pageReferences
Wilson, R. J. et al. Ecol. Lett. 8, 1138–1146 (2005).
Pounds, J. A. et al. Nature 439, 161–167 (2006). | Article | PubMed | ChemPort |
Thomas, C. D. et al. Nature 427, 145–148 (2004). | Article | PubMed | ISI | ChemPort |
Sekercioglu, C. et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA (in the press).

nature.com

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To: Wharf Rat who wrote (1610)11/28/2007 9:38:15 PM
From: Wharf Rat
   of 43918
 
NOAA: Drought hinders CO2 uptake
Study finds 2002 dry weather left extra carbon in atmosphere
By Rebecca Cole, For the Camera
Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A new study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder shows that millions of extra tons of carbon dioxide were left in the Earth's atmosphere as a result of the 2002 drought across North America.

The findings, the first from NOAA's atmospheric monitoring and modeling system called CarbonTracker, show that the amount of carbon dioxide absorbedby vegetation and soil dropped from an annual average of 650 million metric tons to 330 million metric tons. The excess amount of the heat-trapping greenhouse gas remaining in the atmosphere that year was equivalent to the annual emissions of more than 200 million U.S. automobiles.

"Everyone here has been surprised about how big an impact the drought had on the variability of the carbon cycle," said Andy Jacobson, a University of Colorado research scientist working with NOAA and a co-author of the study. "This is the first time we've been able to get a picture of year-to-year variability and also spatial variability within the continent."

Conducted by scientists from NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory and based on 28,000 global observations, the study used a weekly estimate of the carbon exchange across North America from 2000 to 2005. Jacobson said nearly half of the observations were directly over the continent.

"Although the analysis uses data from all over the globe, our estimates are focused in North America because that's where we have the most data," Jacobson said.

According to NOAA, North Americans release about two billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year through burning fossil fuels and manufacturing cement. About one-third is absorbed by forests, grasslands, crops and soil, called "carbon sinks."


Photo by Marty Caivano

Farmer Bruce Schlagel walks through a drought damaged barley field on his farm near Mead in July 2002. That year's drought, which covered much of the United States, left millions of extra tons of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere, according to a new study by Boulder scientists.
Drought and other climatic variations impact sinks and disturb the natural uptake of carbon by changing regional temperatures, rainfall, soil moisture and even the length of the growing season.

In 2002, 45 percent of the United States was classified as being in "extreme" or "exceptional" drought, a fact that, when corroborated with evidence from reduced crop yields and independent modeling efforts, helped NOAA scientists pinpoint drought as the prime factor in the reduced uptake.

"With the CarbonTracker, we get enough detail to see that there's some relationship between this very large drought and that we had less carbon uptake by natural ecosystems during that year," said John Miller, a co-author and CU research scientist. "The kind of analysis that CarbonTracker provides can really link what we mean by net fluxes — the bottom line of how much carbon is being taken up or released. From there we can look at anomalies in terms of climate — drought, extra rain, extra heat, unusually cold events — and how they might impact the bottom-line carbon uptake for a year."

Miller said there's a cyclical relationship between the climate system and the carbon cycle.

"We're pretty confident that if you suddenly get a lot of drought, you get more plant decomposition and less absorption of carbon," Miller said. "As a result, carbon dioxide is higher in the atmosphere, and the more carbon in the atmosphere the more warming. So you have a positive, vicious cycle building up
dailycamera.com

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To: Wharf Rat who wrote (1611)11/28/2007 9:50:02 PM
From: Wharf Rat
   of 43918
 
The job-creating answer to global warming
The infrastructure required to fight against the climate and energy crisis will lead to green jobs
Posted by Joseph Romm at 3:26 PM on 28 Nov 2007

A major new report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) provides a detailed roadmap for avoiding catastrophic global warming and restoring our energy security, while maintaining economic development.

The report, "Capturing the Energy Opportunity: Creating a Low Carbon Economy," is by CAP's John Podesta, Kitt Batten, and Todd Stern. It is well worth reading, and I say that not because I am a senior fellow at CAP, but because the 88-page report lays out the most comprehensive set of plausible job-creating climate/energy policies I have seen.

The authors understand the scale of the problem:

The challenge we face is nothing short of the conversion of an economy sustained by high-carbon energy -- putting both our national security and the health of our planet at serious risk -- to one based on low-carbon, sustainable sources of energy. The scale of this undertaking is immense and its potential enormous.

The urgency of this issue demands a president willing to make the low-carbon energy challenge a top priority in the White House -- a centerpiece not only of his or her energy policy but also of his or her economic program -- to produce broad-based growth and sustain American economic leadership in the 21st century. This task is so encompassing it will demand that the incoming president in 2009 reorganize the mission and responsibility of all relevant government agencies -- economic, national security, and environmental.
The report explores the crucial steps needed to meet the challenge:

Create a green-house gas emissions cap-and-trade program
Eliminate federal tax breaks and subsidies for gas and oil industries
Increase vehicle fuel economy -- 40 mpg by 2020, 55 mpg by 2030
Increase production and availability of alternative low-carbon fuels
25% of our nation's transportation fuels by 2025
Reduce life-cycle emissions from transportation fuels by 10 percent by 2020
Fifteen percent of fuel "pumps" (including dedicated electricity charging stations for plug-in hybrid vehicles) provide low-carbon alternative fuels in any county in the U.S. where 15 percent of vehicles can run on these alternative fuels.
Invest in low-carbon mass transportation infrastructure
Improve efficiency in energy generation, transmission, and consumption -- 10 percent energy savings through efficiency upgrades by 2020
Increase production of renewable electricity
Use carbon capture-and-storage systems for carbon emissions from coal
Create a White House National Energy Council
Create an Energy Innovation Council
Create an Energy Technology Corporation
Create a Clean Energy Investment Authority
Create a Clean Energy Jobs Corps
Lead efforts to advance international global warming policies
Fortunately, while the challenge is great, the opportunity is greater -- and not just the benefits of avoiding catastrophic global warming:

Taking such action is not just good for our environment. Actions like these can provide a powerful charge to the economy. Our vision of a low-carbon economy includes vigorous private and public research pushing the envelope on technologies that will not only stabilize emissions at livable levels during the next 50 years but also create the clean-powered world that our grandchildren and their children will see at the dawn of the next century. Developing, deploying, and building at this scale recalls other great economic transformations in America's past, like the laying of our railroads and the construction of the interstate highway system. But in many ways our new challenge is even more complex since energy powers every part of the economy. Yet that's exactly why these advancements will drive economic growth and American leadership in a competitive global economy well into the 21st century.
Do we need to wait for breakthrough technologies, as Bush, Gingrich, and Lomborg argue? Of course not (in fact, we can't afford to delay any longer if we want to save a livable climate):

The good news is that the technology we need to begin the transformation to a low-carbon economy exists and the investment dollars are available if the policy ground rules are properly established. A great deal of investment and effort will be needed to make this vision real, but the hard work of ushering it in can become a powerful engine for growth, competitive advantage and jobs.
For the details on how we can take advantage of the energy opportunity, read the report here. A video summary is here. An online interview with Kit Batten on the report is here.

And this report is just one chapter in a much longer document, "Progressive Growth: Transforming America's Economy through Clean Energy, Innovation, and Opportunity" -- CAP's economic strategy for the next administration, with a summary here.
gristmill.grist.org

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