Coal or Natural Gas, Climate Effects

Although the burning of natural gas emits far less carbon dioxide than coal, a new study concludes that a greater reliance on natural gas would fail to significantly slow down climate change. The study by Tom Wigley, who is a senior research associate at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), underscores the complex and sometimes conflicting ways in which fossil fuel burning affects Earth’s climate. While coal use causes warming through emission of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, it also releases comparatively large amounts of sulfates and other particles that, although detrimental to the environment, cool the planet by blocking incoming sunlight. As always the final picture of climate effect is very complicated to put together.

New plan to restore 150 million hectares of forest

Conservationists and politicians meeting in Bonn on Friday launched a new initiative to restore 150 million hectares (580,000 square miles) of deforested and degraded forests, reports the World Resources Institute (WRI), an NGO that is involved in the effort. Supporters say the target — dubbed the Bonn Challenge — could could boost economic growth while helping fight climate change.

Falling Solar Panel Costs Are Great For Buyers, Bad for Producers

A recent industry analysis projects the amount of solar power installed to grow to 15.5 percent per year, but revenues are to stay flat until 2016. Lux Research provided the report. A report from Navigant Consulting discovered that the price of solar panels is down almost 20 percent as of August 2011. The information derived from these two reports show that the consumer is poised to benefit from the price reduction while manufacturers can expect an almost flat profit margin for the next few years.

Sustainable Concrete

Concrete is the most widely used building material for residential and commercial buildings. From its humble origins in Roman times, this mixture of Portland cement, aggregate, water, and chemical additives is now a $35 billion industry in the US alone, employing over two million workers. However, when it comes to greenhouse gases, concrete is believed to be a major culprit. The construction and operation of buildings in the United States accounts for about 40 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. According to a new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), certain measures can be taken to drastically reduce and possibly eliminate the carbon footprint of new concrete buildings, and even some older ones.

New ‘demon’ bat discovered in Vietnam

Scientists have discovered three previously unknown bat species in southern Indochina, reports Fauna & Flora International. Researchers from Hungarian Natural History Museum (HNHM) and Fauna & Flora International (FFI) described the new species, which belong to a group known as tube-nosed bats.

Climate in the Past Million Years Determined Greatly by Dust in the Southern Ocean

ScienceDaily (Sep. 1, 2011) — A group of scientists led by researchers from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich) has quantified dust and iron fluxes deposited in the Antarctic Ocean during the past 4 million years. The research study published in Nature evidences the close relation between the maximum contributions of dust to this ocean and climate changes occurring in the most intense glaciation periods of the Pleistocene period, some 1.25 million years ago. Data confirms the role of iron in the increase in phytoplankton levels during glacial periods, intensifying the function of this ocean as a CO2 sink.

Green Energy Use in Germany Passes 20 Percent of Total Power Mix

During the first half of 2011, Germany for the first time generated more than 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, a new report says. While the country’s total electricity demand remained stable during the first six months of 2011, the share generated by renewable sources increased from 18.3 percent to 20.8 percent, according to the German Association of Energy and Water Industries.

Drought intensifies in the South, no end in sight

Record-breaking triple-digit temperatures were prolonging a devastating drought that has been baking the South and the dry spell could extend into next year and beyond, climate experts said on Thursday. "Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse... we are seeing expansion of this drought. This drought will continue to persist and likely intensify," said climatologist Mark Svoboda, with the University of Nebraska's National Drought Mitigation Center. The drought is edging its way to the east even as it intensifies in the southern states, according to a weekly report released Thursday by a consortium of state and federal climatologists dubbed the U.S. Drought Monitor. "We are seeing intensification in the southeast, in particular Georgia, eastern Alabama," said Svoboda. The drought increasingly looks likely to extend into next year, he said. Hurricane Irene offered only a little respite for some areas to the east, he said. But the rest of the nation was contending with mostly dry, warmer-than-normal weather.

Unreported Green House Gas Emission in Europe?

European chemical manufacturers are covertly venting huge quantities of the powerful super greenhouse gas HFC-23, according to a study by the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA). The report, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, says that Western Europe's emissions of HFC-23s – an 'F' or fluorinated gas mainly used as a refrigerant – are between 60-140% higher than officially reported. Italy alone was found to be emitting 10-20 times more HFC-23s than it officially reports. The greenhouse gas has a global warming potential which is 14,800 times higher than CO2.

Scientists call for better management of the deep sea

The deep sea is in trouble. A recent study has found that it's being damaged by human activities, and that this is only likely to get worse. Scientists are now calling for better management and conservation of entire deep-sea ecosystems.