LICSN: Massive Influx of New Climate-Related Stories

It’s Not Just Greenhouse Gases, But Waste Heat as Well. By Bina Venkataraman, BostGlobe, January 25, 2009. “Even if we bring the greenhouse effect under control, says a Tufts astrophysicist, the earth will warm up anyway, thanks to a completely different source of heat that we create ourselves. Over the next 250 years, calculates Eric J. Chaisson in a recent paper [Long-Term Global Heating From Energy Usage, Abstract, PDF 3 pp], the earth’s population will start generating so much of its own heat — chiefly wasted from energy use — that it will warm the earth even without a rise in greenhouse gases. The only way to avoid it, he says, is to rethink how we generate energy. His paper examines the planet’s growing pool of waste heat, a widespread phenomenon that nonetheless has been little studied as a cause of climate change. Nearly everything that uses or generates energy — chiefly power plants, but also cars, snowblowers, computers, and light bulbs — squanders some energy as wasted heat. And the larger and more energy-hungry the human population grows, the more waste heat remains in our atmosphere.”   (LICSN’s December post on Liquid Air Energy could help address this major new issue.)

James Lovelock: One Last Chance to Save Humanity. Interview by Gaia Vince, New Scientist, January 22, 2009. Lovelock: ‘Carbon trading, it’s not going to do a damn thing about climate change, but it’ll make a lot of money for a lot of people… There is one way we could save ourselves and that is through the massive burial of charcoal. It would mean farmers turning all their agricultural waste — which contains carbon that the plants have spent the summer sequestering — into non-biodegradable charcoal, and burying it in the soil. Then you can start shifting really hefty quantities of carbon out of the system and pull the CO2 down quite fast…

Gore to Testify on Climate Change Before Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Time, January 23, 2009. “Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) today announced that Former Vice-President Al Gore will testify [on Wednesday, January 28, at 10 a.m.] before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on climate change and the importance of U.S. leadership. The timeline is short for us to respond to the threat of climate change, and this hearing will examine what America must do to lead the world in crafting a truly global solution.'”

Obama Must Choose Between Radicalism or Failure. Commentary by David Roberts, Grist, January 22, 2009. 1) We are careening toward catastrophe, and to avoid it we’ll likely have to virtually eliminate U.S. carbon emissions by 2050. 2) There is nothing close to the public or political support necessary to pass the kind of sweeping policies necessary to eliminate America ‘s emissions. The U.S. political class, to say nothing of the public, is nowhere near understanding or internalizing the implications of fact No. 1…

Obama Offers Some Economic Green Stimulus Specifics. By Peter Nicholas, LATimes, January 25, 2009. President Obama, offering the first specifics on a key element in his $825-billion stimulus package, said Saturday that it would add 3,000 miles of electric transmission lines and double the nation’s use of wind and solar power within three years. The White House says the package, called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, will modernize 10,000 schools, improving the classroom setting for 5 million children. A centerpiece is alternative energy. Obama is proposing to reduce energy costs by weatherizing 2 million homes and 75% of all federal buildings. The president wants the nation to generate as much renewable energy in three years as it developed in the previous 30, according to the White House. Six million homes could be powered by the new energy supplies Obama has promised. With less than a month before the issue is decided, the prospects for bipartisan cooperation seem to be receding.”

Maine Launches New England’s Largest Wind Farm. By Nick Sambides Jr., Bangor Daily News, January 23, 2009. ” New England ‘s largest wind farm went on line Thursday. First Wind officials expected to transmit the project’s capacity, 57 megawatts, to the New England grid by day’s end.

Cape Wind Project Gets a Green Light. By Mike Seccome, Martha’s Vineyard Gazette, January 23, 2009. “After more than seven years of investigation the final Environmental Impact Statement from the federal Minerals Management Service (MMS) found the project posed no serious environmental threat. The 2,800 page final report differed little from a draft report, released almost exactly a year ago, which identified no lasting major adverse impacts on wildlife, navigation, fishing, tourism or recreation. In a press release issued after the MMS report was released Friday, Cape Wind Associates said it hoped all remaining necessary permits would be in place by March.”

World’s Biggest Wind Turbine-Maker Says Global Downturn Slashing Demand. By Terry Macalister, Guardian ( UK ), January 21, 2009. “The world’s biggest wind turbine manufacturer Vestas says the current economic downturn has left it with 15% excess manufacturing capacity as demand for the technology falls short of projections.

Trees Dying at Alarming Rate, Study Warns. By Dawn Walton, Toronto Globe and Mail, January 23, 2009. “The death of old-growth forests in the western United States and Canada is increasing at a stunning rate.

Antarctica Heating Up, ‘Ignored’ Satellite Data Show. By Anne Minard, NatGeographic, January 21, 2009. “Temperatures are warming throughout Antarctica , especially in winter and spring, according to new weather station and satellite data. The Antarctic Peninsula , the farthest portion of the continent from the South Pole, has warmed faster than any other place in the world in the past 50 years — by some estimates as much as 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit (2.5 degrees Celsius). Such increases have caused dramatic ice shelf collapses.”

11th Hour Global Warming Impact Studies Released. By Joseph Romm, Grist, January 21, 2009.What subject matter is so abhorrent it would motivate the Bush administration to release multiple reports simultaneously the Friday before the four-day weekend that culminates in their loss of power, and when they can be certain the media will be focused on other matters?… On Friday January 16, the U.S. Climate Change Science Program actually released four major Synthesis and Assessment reports… all substantive and comprehensive studies, almost on a par with the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment… The Arctic report [states] ‘The past tells us that when thresholds in the climate system are crossed, climate change can be very large and very fast. We cannot rule out that human-induced climate change will trigger such events in the future.'”

Antarctic Ice Shelf Set to Collapse. By Alister Doyle, Reuters, January 21, 2009. “A huge Antarctic ice shelf is on the brink of collapse with just a sliver of ice holding it in place, the latest victim of global warming that is altering maps of the frozen continent… The Wilkins Ice Shelf once covered 16,000 sq km. It has lost a third of its area but is still about the size of Jamaica or the state of Connecticut . Once the strip breaks up, the sea is likely to sweep away much of the remaining ice. Icebergs the shape and size of shopping malls already dot the sea around the shelf as it disintegrates.”

World Social Forum to Convene in Brazil. By Mario Osava, IPS, January 21, 2009. A World Social Forum (WSF) revitalized by a global crisis that has awakened new interest in the proposition that ‘another world is possible’ — now perceived as either less utopian or more urgently needed — will take place from Jan. 27 to Feb. 1 in Belém, in northern Brazil.”

Carl Pope Stepping Down as Executive Director of the Sierra Club, Will Concentrate on Climate Change. By Kate Galbraith, NYTimes, January 25, 2009.

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