Saturday, August 05, 2006

Not scary at all

Maybe more articles of this nature, and things would actually start to happen.

Even scarier is the other sight, about 20 meters down off the coast of Santa Barbara, Calif.: bubbles, millions of bubbles of methane -- 20 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

The methane is bubbling up naturally from some of the enormous natural undersea reservoirs of the gas mostly locked into the frozen mud under the sea floor.


Scientists have just released video showing how, for the first time, they have been able to measure these natural up-wellings to tell whether, if large amounts of this methane ever thawed out from its deep sea beds, it would reach the atmosphere, rather than being absorbed in the water, and thus make the earth even hotter.

The findings of oceanographer Ira Leifer et al, published in a strictly peer-reviewed scientific journal, are that it would do just that.

In other words, all that undersea methane is a potential "positive feedback" of catastrophic proportions.

If warming currents, such as those already detected by scientists at depth, begin to thaw these methane beds, it will make the atmosphere, and consequently the sea currents, even warmer, and melt out more methane.

A number of scientists tell me that would take the Earth up into temperatures humankind has never experienced -- and probably could not survive.

As far as I can tell, this ran on ABC News. Now, at this stage in the game, maybe 18 Americans still get their news from ABC. But if we can convert just two of those, and they convert two, and those four each convert 2080 we'll be good to go.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I guess I like this...biofuels initiative

Anything involving this Administration I'm dubious about, but this doesn't seem all that...harmful

The federal government will spend $250 million to help create two research centers that will focus on finding more efficient ways to produce cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels, Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman announced Wednesday during a visit to Illinois.


The two winning organizations each will receive $25 million per year for five years, beginning in the 2008 federal fiscal year, to develop and operate the research centers, which are expected to be fully operational by 2009, said Raymond L. Orbach, undersecretary of energy for science.

While corn and soybeans are widely used to produce ethanol and biodiesel for fuel, the new research centers will be charged with looking to efficiently break down other natural materials, or biomass — such as grasses, crop residue and animal byproducts — to help make fuel.

Although of course, as with everything, there's self interest involved. And who is this farmer? Where does an AP reporter happen upon a farmer? Are they listed in the yellow pages under "Farming, Personal"? Sniff...I smell a planted individual from a biased third-party:

Farm states such as Illinois should benefit from the research because it could lead to new cash crops and markets for them, said Mazon-area farmer Jay Fillman.

"When you do that basic research, that can really open up new opportunities and probably make it a more sustainable, economic driven industry, instead of being driven by the subsidies as it is right now," he said.

Uh-huh. Whatever you say...Jay...if that's really your name...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

But wait, there's more...

This is pretty cool:

Twenty-two of the world's largest cities announced Tuesday they will work together to limit their contributions to global warming in an effort led by former President Bill Clinton.

The Clinton Climate Initiative -- which will create an international consortium to bargain for cheaper energy-efficient products and share ideas on cutting greenhouse gas pollution -- includes Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and New York as well as Cairo, Egypt; Delhi, India; London and Mexico City. While the group is not setting specific targets for reducing emissions, Clinton said, he is confident the effort will both cut pollution and create jobs in the cities that contribute most to higher temperatures.

One fascinating little tidbit points to an interesting potential strategy. Focus efforts exclusively on the worst emitters (say top 100) for the time being, to reduce potential negative economic consequences, developing world concerns, etc.
The 40 cities he is targeting account for roughly 15 to 20 percent of the world's emissions...

...The Clinton Foundation will focus on providing technical assistance and bargaining power to the participating cities, all with area populations of 3 million or more, employing the same model it has used to lower the price of AIDS medicine for poorer countries.

Cities Respond to Global Warming Challenge

Yeah yeah. I've been busy.

In any event, some interesting GW news. Into the vacuum of leadership created by the absence of Bush Administration interest in what even Ron Burgundy would refer to as "a pretty big deal", steps others:

Tony Blair yesterday sidestepped the Bush administration's refusal to act on climate change by signing what was hailed as a ground-breaking agreement with California, the world's 12th largest carbon emitter, to fight global warming.

Downing Street made no attempt to disguise the fact that the deal is designed to get round Republican objections to states imposing mechanisms to cut carbon emissions. With other US states also interested or involved in carbon trading markets, the path is being opened to bring US business into international efforts to fight climate change, even though international progress has been stymied by the Bush administration's refusal to sign up to binding targets in the Kyoto protocol.

And while the LA Times editorial section may be mildly dubious, it still praises the efforts, and describes the importance of public/private partnerships:
FOR ALL THE FANFARE that preceded it, the agreement on global warming signed Monday by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is more a promise than a plan. The nation and the nation-state, the two leaders agreed, will collaborate on new, clean-fuel technologies and research the costs and benefits of mandatory emissions trading programs such as those recently put in place in Britain and the rest of Europe.

In fact, business — the constituency so many politicians fear to ruffle by proposing energy regulations — has shown more leadership than many governments on climate change. Business leaders recognize that it is more than simply an environmental issue. It's an energy issue. It's an economic issue. It's a national security issue.

They also recognize the costs of doing nothing. Not only the costs of drought and hurricanes, which we're already paying, but the opportunity cost. They see not just a moral imperative but a market for cleaner energy. The United States, which has always risen to scientific and technological challenges, is in danger of sitting this one out.

But even business leaders acknowledge that they cannot solve this alone. As BP Chief Executive John Browne, who hosted the Blair-Schwarzenegger meeting at BP's Long Beach shipping terminal, said at a meeting Tuesday with The Times' editorial board, the role of governments can't be underestimated even in seeking a market-based solution. "The way government creates regulations determines markets," he said. "And markets determine behavior."
Ahhh leadership. Smells of rich mahogany...