Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Tag Archive: carbon dioxide

  1. American voters support action on climate change

    Leave a Comment

    George Mason University December 13 2016  Center for Climate Change Communication

    …our latest national survey, conducted shortly after the election, finds that, across party lines, 69% of registered voters say the U.S. should participate in the international agreement to limit global warming, compared to only 13% who say the U.S. should not.

    Likewise, 70% of registered voters support setting strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants to reduce global warming and improve public health, even if the cost of electricity to consumers and companies increased – a core component of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Democrats (85%), Independents (62%) and Republicans (52%) all support setting strict limits on these emissions.

    Other key findings include:

    • As strategies, 78% of registered voters support taxing global warming pollution, regulating it, or using both approaches. Only 10% oppose these approaches…
  2. Carbon is not the enemy– the new language of carbon by innovative architect Wm. McDonough

    Leave a Comment

    http://www.nature.com/news/carbon-is-not-the-enemy-1.20976

    Design with the natural cycle in mind to ensure that carbon ends up in the right places, urges William McDonough

    by William McDonough  NATURE

    carbon — the element — is not the enemy. Climate change is the result of breakdowns in the carbon cycle caused by us: it is a design failure. Anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the atmosphere make airborne carbon a material in the wrong place, at the wrong dose and for the wrong duration. It is we who have made carbon toxic — like lead in our drinking water or nitrates in our rivers. In the right place, carbon is a resource and a tool.

    Carbon dioxide is the currency of photosynthesis, a source of Earth’s capacity for regeneration. Soil carbon is the guarantor of healthy ecosystems and food and water security. Carbon atoms are the building blocks of life. Wool, cotton and silk are carbon compounds, as are many industrial polymers and pure ‘supercarbons’ such as diamonds and graphene.

    …Rather than declare war on carbon emissions, we can work with carbon in all its forms. To enable a new relationship with carbon, I propose a new language — living, durable and fugitive — to define ways in which carbon can be used safely, productively and profitably. Aspirational and clear, it signals positive intentions, enjoining us to do more good rather than simply be less bad...

    ….(summarized by Marianna Grossman):

    William McDonough, innovative architect and author, recently published in the journal Nature a new framework for managing carbon as an asset. Instead of considering carbon as something to eliminate, he recommends improving our designs by thinking about carbon in these ways:

    • Living carbon: organic, flowing in biological cycles, providing fresh food, healthy forests and fertile soil; something we want to cultivate and grow
    • Durable carbon: locked in stable solids such as coal and limestone or recyclable polymers that are used and reused; ranges from reusable fibers like paper and cloth, to building and infrastructure elements that can last for generations and then be reused
    • Fugitive carbon: has ended up somewhere unwanted and can be toxic; includes carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, ‘waste to energy’ plants, methane leaks, deforestation, much industrial agriculture and urban development

    The goal is to eliminate fugitive carbon and to direct it to living or durable uses, thereby reducing fugitive carbon in the atmosphere and oceans using these strategies:

    The new approach also identifies three strategies for carbon management and climate change:

    • Carbon positive: actions converting atmospheric carbon to forms that enhance soil nutrition or to durable forms such as polymers and solid aggregates; also recycling of carbon into nutrients from organic materials, food waste, compostable polymers and sewers
    • Carbon neutral: actions that transform or maintain carbon in durable Earth-bound forms and cycles across generations; or renewable energy such as solar, wind and hydropower that do not release carbon
    • Carbon negative: actions that pollute the land, water and atmosphere with various forms of carbon, for example, CO2 and methane into the atmosphere or plastics in the ocean

    Nature 539,349–351 () doi:10.1038/539349a

  3. Average U.S. family destroys football field’s worth of Arctic sea ice every 30 years

    Leave a Comment

    http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/11/average-us-family-destroys-football-fields-worth-arctic-sea-ice-every-30-years

    The jet fuel you burned on that flight from New York City to London? Say goodbye to 1 square meter of Arctic sea ice.

    Since at least the 1960s, the shrinkage of the ice cap over the Arctic Ocean has advanced in lockstep with the amount of greenhouse gases humans have sent into the atmosphere, according to a study published this week in Science. Every additional metric ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) puffed into the atmosphere appears to cost the Arctic another 3 square meters of summer sea ice—a simple and direct observational link that has been sitting in data beneath scientists’ noses….

    Notz et al. Observed Arctic sea-ice loss directly follows anthropogenic CO2 emission. Science  03 Nov 2016:DOI: 10.1126/science.aag2345
    http://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2016/11/02/science.aag2345
  4. Climate Change and Nutrition—Polar Bears, Fish

    Leave a Comment
    Land-based food not nutritionally sufficient for wild polar bears, according to new study

    Posted: 13 Sep 2016 12:05 PM PDT

    On average, a polar bear loses up to 30 percent of its total body mass while fasting during the open-water season. Although some scientists previously believed land-based foods could supplement the bears’ nutritional needs until the sea ice returns, a new study has revealed that access to terrestrial food is not sufficient to reduce the rate of body mass loss for fasting polar bears.

    Study links altered brain chemistry, behavioral impairments in fish exposed to elevated carbon dioxide

    Posted: 13 Sep 2016 09:52 AM PDT

    Increased carbon dioxide concentrations alters brain chemistry that may lead to neurological impairment in some fish, a first-of-its-kind study demonstrates.

  5. Plants that received extra carbon dioxide didn’t grow more or get greener

    Leave a Comment

    By Seth Borenstein and Alicia Chang, AP science writers LOS ANGELES — Sep 5, 2016, 3:06 PM ET

    In the course of a 17-year experiment on more than 1 million plants, scientists put future global warming to a real world test — growing California flowers and grasslands with extra heat, carbon dioxide and nitrogen to mimic a not-so-distant, hotter future. The results, simulating a post-2050 world, aren’t pretty. And they contradict those who insist that because plants like carbon dioxide — the main heat-trapping gas spewed by the burning of fossil fuels — climate change isn’t so bad, and will result in a greener Earth. At least in the California ecosystem, the plants that received extra carbon dioxide, as well as those that got extra warmth, didn’t grow more or get greener. They also didn’t remove the pollution and store more of it in the soil, said study author Chris Field, director of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. Plant growth tended to decline with rising temperatures…..

    ….Only the extra nitrogen — a byproduct of diesel engines and ammonia used as fertilizer — made plants greener. Field, whose study appears Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, theorizes that there’s a limit to how much carbon dioxide plants can use. Outside scientists praised the long-running experiment.…”This study clearly demonstrates that as temperatures continue to rise due to climate change, grassland ecosystems will likely not be able to tolerate the higher temperatures and increased drought stress,” Boston University biologist Richard Primack emailed….

    Nonlinear, interacting responses to climate limit grassland production under global change

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/08/30/1606734113?trendmd_shared=0

    Kai Zhu, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1606734113