The way we make and use stuff is harming the world—and ourselves. To create a system that works, we can't just use our purchasing power. We must turn it into citizen power. Since I released "The Story of Stuff" six years ago, the most frequent snarky remark I get from people trying to take me down a notch is about my own stuff.
Climatologists are puzzled that greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, while the atmosphere is warming more slowly than they expected. Now two scientists in the US think they know why. hey say cooling waters in the tropical Pacific Ocean have played a large part in slowing recent warming, a finding which challenges those who argue that the slowdown means climate change is not as serious a problem as most climate scientists are convinced it is.
Climate change is only one of the risks that coral larvae have to face – but those which do survive its effects can improve the prospects for mature reefs. Scientists in the UK and the US have found that coral larvae are capable of travelling very long distances before becoming part of a reef.
Researchers have found a "mega canyon" in Greenland tucked under a mile and a half of ice that could rival the size and depth of Arizona’s Grand Canyon. While the discovery won’t become a major tourist attraction, it does provide insight into how meltwater courses its way underneath the world’s second-largest ice sheet, and how that might affect ice shelves and glaciers at its periphery.
A war on climate change is a war on materialism, plain and simple. The carbon pollution spewing out of our power plants and tail pipes is a natural byproduct of the monstrous engine of economic growth we have built, an engine that exists solely to satisfy the demand our materialism creates.
Last week, Minneapolis-based utility Xcel Energy proposed its fourth wind farm in the Upper Midwest since mid-July. If approved, the 150-megawatt Border Winds Project would be developed in North Dakota near the U.S.-Canadian border and produce enough electricity to save customers an estimated $45 million over its lifetime while reducing annual carbon dioxide emissions by about 320,000 tons.
The highly radioactive water leaking from the wrecked Fukushima plant is part of a problem that Japan will take decades to resolve and which will blight many thousands of lives. The discovery at the plant of a leak of radioactive caesium eight times more dangerous than the levels immediately after the Fukushima accident in March 2011 has aroused international concern that Japan is incapable of containing the aftermath of the accident.
There’s a solar panel installation boom going on. In the EU. In the US. In Asia. In South America. Globally. Solar panel installation volumes have skyrocketed due to falling solar power prices and decent solar power incentives from thoughtful governments.
Studies into how we use air conditioning technology suggest that our attempts to keep cool are in fact adding to rising temperatures.As the world swelters, so will energy demand rise: the heat extremes generated by climate change are likely to raise the global demand for air conditioning by 72%. So people will generate more heat and release more carbon dioxide just to stay cool as the thermometer soars.
When President Obama released his Climate Action Plan in late June, it started to provide clarity on what’s been deemed an “all of the above” energy production strategy for the U.S. However, the plan was short on specifics. At a talk at Columbia University on Monday, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz provided some of those specifics and expanded on other ways the federal government plans to approach energy production and use.
The massive Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park in California is an example of how drought can amplify wildfires in a warming, drying West. The fire, which now ranks as the 14th-largest wildfire in state history, has been racing through parched stands of oak and pine trees, and threatening some of the region’s iconic giant sequoia trees.
By making 360-degree panoramic underwater vision available to anyone who has a computer, scientists hope to alert many more people to the plight of the world’s coral reefs. Scientists have hit on a way to harness 360-degree panoramas from Google’s underwater street-view format in order to let anyone with access to a computer see reefs in real time.
British research into storm cycles has found evidence suggesting reduced atmospheric pollution may have had the unexpected side-effect of increasing the ferocity and frequency of hurricanesScientists from Britain’s Meteorological Office have fingered a new suspect in their attempt to solve the mystery of tropical storms.
Several years ago, Tony Seba, an energy expert from Stanford University, published a book called Solar Trillions, predicting how solar technologies would redefine the world’s energy markets and create an investment opportunity worth tens of trillions of dollars. Most people looked at him, he says, as if he had three heads.
North Dakota, now the second-largest oil-producing state in the US, is neglecting the gas that also comes from its wells, says a report, wasting money and adding to greenhouse gas emissions.
Recent research suggests that the rise and fall of the ancient world’s civilisations may have been due to a changing climate. Historians and archaeologists have invoked catastrophic volcanic eruption, a tsunami, invasion, a socioeconomic crisis, new technology and mysterious forces to explain the collapse of late Bronze Age civilisation in Europe.
Scientists in the UK say the steady advance in the arrival of spring each year may mean that some butterfly species which develop early will simply be unable to adapt any further. British researchers are using insect specimens kept in museums for a century and a quarter to learn more about climate change and the steady move towards the earlier annual arrival of spring.
The highly radioactive water leaking from the wrecked Fukushima plant is part of a problem that Japan will take decades to resolve and which will blight many thousands of lives.
If you think the much-hyped Atlantic hurricane season has turned into a bit of a snoozefest, forecasters warn that it's not time to nap just yet. Yes, the season was forecast to be an active one, but so far, with the mid-September peak rapidly approaching, not a single hurricane has formed. The five named storms petered out uneventfully. However, forecasters believe the season will still turn out to be busy, and urge the millions of coastal residents not to get complacent.
A new study calls into question the widely-publicized hypothesis that rapid warming of the Arctic climate, including the precipitous loss of summer sea ice cover, is altering weather patterns throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Specifically, the study, which will be published in a forthcoming issue of Geophysical Research Letters, challenges the findings of previous studies that showed a slowdown in the speed and changes in the shape of the jet stream.
What was once a coast-to-coast drought now divides the U.S. into two distinct pieces, pitting those that have water in the Midwest vs. the have-nots in the West. One of those regions is in for a long, hot, dry, and potentially smoky summer. (Hint: It's not the Midwest.)
Krill, the foundation of the Antarctic marine food web, could be in trouble as the region’s seas continue to warm – but scientists think the risks are manageable. They may not look very appetising, but they are what sustains much of the marine life in the southern ocean.
Scientists may have zeroed in on the cause of a mysterious 18-month drop in global average sea level that occurred between 2010 and 2011, pointing to events that occurred on the world’s smallest continent: Australia. New research shows that during those two years, flooding rains in Australia, which resulted from a rare combination of factors, took huge quantities of water out of the oceans without returning it, like a library user with mounting late fees.
Rachel Maddow reports on the increased emergency level at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan where hundreds of tons of radioactive water is leaking into the sea.
With 51 large wildfires currently burning across the U.S., the nation’s firefighters have been placed on a war footing — known as “National Preparedness Level 5.” It's the first time that step has been taken since 2008, according to Wildfire Today, and it reflects the combination of high fire activity, the large amounts of firefighting resources already committed to wildfires.
The year-to-date has been the sixth warmest on record globally, and July was also the sixth warmest such month since global surface temperature records first began in 1880, according to new data released on Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The figures show that July 2013 was the 37th straight July, and the 341st straight month, with warmer-than-average global temperatures.
Scary stories of kidnappings and explosions lead our news feeds, but it's the good news that helps break down the myth of our own powerlessness. "If it bleeds, it leads." Ever hear that maxim of journalism? If you want readers, go with the scary, gruesome story—that's what gets hearts pumping and grabs attention. But what grabs our attention can also scare the heck out of us and shut us down.
It's taken 60 years, but solar is tantalizingly close to beating fossil fuels on price. The prices of solar cells are falling rapidly, and will keep doing so for the next few years. The big questions revolve around the rate of the price declines. And the panels themselves aren't the only place where cost reductions will be found. America has very high "soft costs" -- installation, permitting, marketing etc. Whittling down these expenses will help, too.
It’s going to take more than slashing methane emissions and releases of soot into the air to curb a warming climate. That’s the conclusion of a Pacific Northwest National Laboratory study released this week, saying methane and soot emissions need to be cut in addition to carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.
The arguments for and against fracking seem clear-cut. But it’s not that simple, and there is mounting evidence that exploiting shale gas may be neither necessary nor sensible. As the international debate intensifies over the arguments for and against exploiting shale gas, the largest British nature conservation charity has objected to proposals to drill at two sites in Britain.
European climate scientists say the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere mean it is virtually inevitable that far more parts of the world will experience more frequent and severe heat waves in the next 30 years. Stand by for extreme weather.
A cold, dry spell that lasted hundreds of years may have driven the collapse of Eastern Mediterranean civilizations in the 13th century BC, researchers in France said Wednesday. In the Late Bronze Age, powerful kingdoms spanned lands that are now Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, Syria, Turkey, Israel and the Palestinian territories, but they collapsed suddenly around 1200 BC.
American business and industry is coming under closer scrutiny from shareholders concerned to see how prepared companies are to respond to the financial pressures of a warming world. Shareholders in the US are showing growing concern about their investments in companies exposed to climate change-related risks, according to new data released by Ceres, a US organisation that promotes more sustainable business practices.
When I give these climate talks, by the end people are typically agitated and full of questions. “What technology is going to fix this?” “How are we ever get people to agree on a solution?” “I’m just one person, what could I possibly do that would make an impact?”
I recently had the opportunity to engage in conversation with Guy McPherson about a number of topics and subsequently began reading his book Walking Away From Empire, Guy’s personal journey of leaving a tenured professorship to radically alter his living arrangements in preparation for the collapse of industrial civilization.
Peoples who have lived in the same place for countless generations – the Amazon, perhaps, or the Arctic – possess invaluable knowledge about living with climate change, and it is evolving all the time. Climate change often seems to be seen as the preserve of scientists and environmental journalists. But what about the accumulated wisdom of traditional and indigenous peoples?
We sometimes forget that one consequence of climate change is likely to be new ways for diseases to spread. But the natural world offers stark reminders. Some like it hot: more protozoans can infect the monarch butterfly as climates become milder; nematode parasites get two chances to infect caribou and reindeer as a result of Arctic warming; and coral pathogens become more active with warmer seas.
Most ice we see melts quickly, from ice cubes melting into a soda to icicles disappearing on a sunny winter day. But in Antarctica, ice can stick around for hundreds of thousands of years. A newly revealed cylinder of ancient ice could change the way we think about climate change. A study published August 14 in the scientific journal Nature looked at 30,000 years of ice in more detail than has ever before been possible.
Beverly McGuire saw the warning signs before the town well went dry: sand in the toilet bowl, the sputter of air in the tap, a pump working overtime to no effect. But it still did not prepare her for the night last month when she turned on the tap and discovered the tiny town where she had made her home for 35 years was out of water.
Early this week, when Colorado State Climatologist Nolan Doesken toured an area of southeast Colorado hit hardest by the drought of 2012, he was greeted with a vast expanse of parched farmland that had turned into a moonscape with almost no vegetation. However, a welcome series of deluges that washed over much of the drought-stricken Great Plains this summer, drawing a stark contrast between drought conditions today across the U.S. and the devastating drought of 2012.
Dutch scientists have thought up a new use for all the carbon dioxide that pours from the chimneys of fossil fuel-burning power stations: harvest it for even more electricity. They could, they argue, pump the carbon dioxide through water or other liquids and produce a flow of electrons and therefore more electricity.