There is another contender in the alternate energy, renewable fuels sweepstakes that combines aspects of solar energy and biofuels. Most solar technologies are aimed at producing electricity, but a new class of solar chemical reactors aims to make liquid fuels from air, water, and sunshine. This could, in theory, provide a carbon neutral replacement for liquid fossil fuels. The catch? The process is costly and unlikely ever to compete with gasoline produced from fossil fuels without a punishing tax on carbon emissions.
Once again the leaders in the fight against anthropogenic global warming have come together to hold an international fear fest, supposedly to save mankind from the ravages of climate change—or to save the planet from mankind, depending on who you talk to. The predictable result: more strident warnings of disaster, pledges of more far reaching actions from politicians, and no real change. After jetting into Denmark, expending the carbon equivalent of more than 200,000 trees, the carping climate crowd has jetted back home until the next act of this farce takes place in Mexico City in 2010.
While climate skeptics have gleefully pointed to the past decade's lack of temperature rise as proof that global warming is not happening as predicted, climate change activists have claimed that this is just “cherry picking” the data. They point to their complex and error prone general circulation models that, after significant re-factoring, are now predicting a stretch of stable temperatures followed by a resurgent global warming onslaught. In a recent paper, a new type of model, based on a test for structural breaks in surface temperature time series, is used to investigate two common claims about global warming. This statistical model predicts no temperature rise until 2050 but the more interesting prediction is what happens between 2050 and 2100.
Maybe it was just supposed to justify a boondoggle trip to Finland or her actual tree-hugger tendencies coming to the fore, but in this month's IEEE Spectrum magazine, Associate Editor Sandra Upson turned a report on the world's only working nuclear waste repository project into an eco-rant that any Greenpeace member would be proud of. Visiting Finland's Olkiluoto Island, where the industrious Finns are quietly taking care of their nuclear future, Ms Upson transformed what should have been an uplifting example of what serious minded engineers can accomplish when government makes a decision and then gets out of the way, into a distopian hit piece.
Twenty thousand years ago, North America had a more impressive array of big animals than Africa does today. The continent was populated by mastodon, several species of mammoth, giant ground sloths, saber-toothed cats and bison twice the size of their modern counterparts. By 10,000 years ago most of these animals were gone, including the 10 species that weighed more than a ton. Many drastic changes occurred during this interval, including the arrival of Homo sapiens to the new world. Many have cited humans as the cause of this great megafaunal die-off: were H. sapiens causing mass extinctions even during the stone age?
Recent claims by climate change alarmists have raised the possibility that terrestrial ecosystems and particularly the oceans have started loosing part of their ability to absorb a large proportion of man-made CO2 emissions. This is an important claim, because currently only about 40% of anthropogenic emissions stay in the atmosphere, the rest is sequestered by a number of processes on land and sea. The warning that the oceans have reached their fill and their capacity to remove atmospheric CO2 is accompanied by the prediction that this will cause greenhouse warming to accelerate in the future. A new study re-examines the available atmospheric CO2 and emissions data and concludes that the portion of CO2 absorbed by the oceans has remained constant since 1850.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared greenhouse gases a danger to public health this week, in a move that could pave the way for future regulation. This is seen by many as a fallback move by the Obama administration in case the moribund Cap and Trade bill fails in congress. With perverse logic that could only be understood by a politician, carbon dioxide, a substance that is essential to life on Earth and to maintaining our planet's habitable ecosystem, has been lumped in with the likes of DDT and asbestos. The announcement comes on the first day of the Copenhagen climate summit and is seen by many as a sop to ecologists and global warming activists prior to President Obama's appearance at the end of the conference.
Climate and environmental scientists have become dependent on computer models in recent decades. The scientific literature and the popular press are filled with strident warnings of impending natural disasters, all predicated on the output of computer programs. The IPCC has solemnly predicted that climate change will drive thousands of species to extinction if anthropogenic global warming is not reined in. The coprophagous press has uncritically swallowed these computer generated droppings, reporting conjecture as fact and possibilities as certainties. Even though the climate change faithful continue to blindly believe the IPCC predictions, at least some researchers are aware of the glaring flaws in their computer models.
There are a number of scientists who disbelive the theory that an asteroid impact killed the dinosaurs. They point to evidence that some species of sauropod may have survived the Chicxulub impact—widely hailed as the smoking gun in the dinosaur extinction—as proof that the event was simply not big enough to be a knockout blow. Now, according to Sankar Chatterjee of Texas Tech University, new information reinforces his claim that a much larger impact that he has named Shiva, actually did the dinosaurs in.