NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory satellite failed to reach orbit after its 4:55 a.m. EST liftoff Feb. 24 from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. The spacecraft did not reach orbit and likely landed in the ocean near Antarctica, according to the program manager for the Taurus XL launch vehicle. The OCO was to bt the first earth science observatory able to create a detailed map of atmospheric carbon dioxide sources and sinks around the globe.
Now that global warming coo-coos have turned just about every aspect of normal daily life into a crime against the biosphere you would think that something as trivial as a Google search would be eco-friendly. Not so! According to Alex Wissner-Gross, a Harvard University physicist whose research on the environmental impact of computing is due out soon, performing a couple of searches releases as much CO2 as fixing a cup of coffee.
Here are some interesting climate related tidbits from the science news feeds; food for thought in the new year. First, researchers at the University of Oregon have discovered evidence linking the disappearance of North American megafauna, the Clovis people and the onset of the Younger Dryas period to a comet impact. For years scientists have blamed the disappearance of the American Mammoth, Mastodon, saber toothed cats and other large land animals on human predation or climate change.
A spectacular warehouse fire stopped traffic and drew a crowd of onlookers in Auckland, New Zealand, last Saturday night, but the interesting thing is that many people were convinced the fire was caused by a meteorite. The blaze broke out in a warehouse on the intersection of Ponsonby Road and McKelvie Street in Auckland sometime around 10:00pm. A number of people reported seeing what may have been a meteorite from various parts of the upper North Island streaking across the sky just after 10:00.
While the state of Arkansas likes to promote itself as a forward looking part of the US that welcomes high-tech and green industry it recently took a giant step into the past with regard to energy policy. Despite public outcry, on November 5, Arkansas environmental regulators issued an air permit to allow a unit of American Electric Power to begin construction of the 600 megawatt John W. Turk Jr. coal-fired plant.
There have been a number of near hysterical reports that the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are melting much faster than anticipated. This has been trumpeted as prima facia evidence that Global Warming is accelerating and we will soon see marked increases in sea levels world wide. The surging glaciers from both the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets have alarmed scientists, eco-advocates and the news media alike. However, two new studies point to random, wind-induced circulation changes in the ocean—not global warming—as the primary cause of the recent glacial ice losses.
Ross Garnaut, an adviser to the Australian government on climate change matters, is asking people to give up their beef and lamb-based meals and shift to kangaroo meat if they want to help save the planet. According to a new study by the University of New South Wales economist, farming kangaroos instead of sheep or cattle could lower national greenhouse gases in Australia by 3 percent a year. The belching and farting of millions of farm animals is a major contributor to Australia's greenhouse gas emissions, Professor Garnaut noted in his report to the government. Methane from the foregut of cattle and sheep constitutes 11 percent of Australia's total greenhouse emissions, but kangaroos produce negligible amounts of methane.
Every now and then you see a statement like “a great future source of energy is hydrogen.” Such statements are lies—hydrogen is only an energy carrier or transfer media and not a substance capable of providing new energy. Hydrogen will never be a source of new energy here on Earth until we figure out how to make nuclear fusion work. This is because chemical uses of hydrogen, be it fuel cells or internal combustion (IC) engines, only work if you start out with free hydrogen: H2 .
Eclipsed by the pageantry of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and Russian attempts to start WWIII by invading their former client states, is a noticeable downward trend in global temperatures. Data from the UK Meteorology Office shows that temperatures in the first half of the year have been cooler than any year since 2000. The reason given for the cooler temperatures is the natural cycle of La Nina and El Nino periods, which affect climate world wide.
One of the ideas that gets mentioned in energy policy sound bites is “clean coal,” but what is entailed in cleaning up coal is not detailed. In The Resilient Earth we described coal as the most dangerous energy source on the planet—why? In Chapter 17, in the section titled Coal's False Promise we explain why coal is best left buried in the earth, where the efforts of millions of years of active geology has placed it.
One of the central points presented in The Resilient Earth is the fundamental immaturity of climate science and how unreasonable it is to ask for accurate predictions working from the current state of both climate theory and available data. We used the formulation of the three pillars of science—theory, experiment and computation—as the framework of our argument. As an example why we take this stand consider a recent article in the journal Science.