Climate, News, Renewable Energy

U.S. Navy will install 210 MW of solar energy in the Arizona desert

Solar Farm in Tucson, Arizona. The one planned by the Navy will be a lot bigger. Image courtesy of IBM Research, Flickr Creative Commons

The Department of the Navy (DON) announced it will make the largest investment in renewable energy by an federal entity. Its plan is to install a huge 210 megawatt (MW) solar facility – enough to power 80,000 Californian homes – in the Arizona desert, which would serve electricity to 14 US Navy installations. The agreement was signed last month and marks the latest in a slew of measures meant to make the Department of Defense less dependent on oil – not just by the navy, but also the military or air force.

Climate, News

The carbon credit scheme is doing more harm than good, costing 600 million tonnes of extra CO2

Image: Investor Protectors

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. In a bid to curb global emissions, the carbon credit scheme was introduced by the UN as an annex to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Apparently, this honestly good idea has backfired after some participants in the scheme, most notably from Russian and Ukraine, took advantage. Lack of international oversight means a couple of factories have turned in a huge profit while emissions have actually gone up to support the scheme. A classic case of perverse incentive or good idea gone bad. This time, at the global climate’s expense.

Climate

Glass half full: social unrest and conflict curb global warming

Soldiers loyal to Assad cheer while raising their weapons in the Aleppo countryside. Photograph: George Ourfalian/Reuters

The revolutionary wave that swept Arab nations beginning with 2011 displaced millions and cost the lives of hundreds of thousands. On the bright side, the dampened economic activity caused a significant lapse in greenhouse emissions. In some extreme cases, nitrogen dioxide values have decreased by 40 to 50% over Damascus and Aleppo, according to a new study published by the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry.

Climate, News, World Problems

July 2015 was the hottest month ever recorded

July 2015 Blended Land & Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies in °C. Image via NOAA.

Did you notice something strange about this July? It was hot! Sure, July is supposed to be hot (at least for most of the world), but even by July standards it was hot. If you too have felt like this, you weren’t imagining things: the NOAA recently announced that this July was the hottest month ever recorded, and January-July 2015 was

Climate, News

Researchers turn CO2 seized from the air into valuable high-tech material

The carbon nanofibers (seen above) were generated using a solar-powered electrochemical reactor that uses CO2 as its starting material. Image: George Washington University

A team at George Washington University has found a way to hit two birds with one stone: mitigate climate change by pulling CO2 from the atmosphere and make a valuable material at the same time. The solar powered setup reacts a molten lithium carbonate in the presence of heat and an electrical current to produce carbon fibers, recently highly prized in engineering applications from cars and airplanes to wind turbines to tennis rackets.

Climate, Environmental Issues, News

Not just ugly: grimy buildings help build smog in the sunshine

grimy building

For the first time, a group of researchers from Canada showed that the grime on buildings can emit ozone when exposed to light. Ozone is the main compound found in smog, a dangerous mixture to public health. Up until now, grimy urban buildings weren’t included in models that assess how polluted an urban area is, but the new findings suggest their contribution is significant. Dirty buildings are thus not only unpleasant to look at, but also detrimental to your health.

Climate, News, Science

Central Asia glaciers are melting at an alarming rate threatening the water supply of millions

Glaciers in the Tien Shan range with Khan Tengri in background, Kazakhstan

Glaciers covering Asia’s Tian Shan mountains have lost a quarter of their mass over the past 50 years, at a rate four times higher than the global average due to the particularly dry climate of the area. At this rate, by 2050 half of the remaining ice that covers the 2,500 kilometers long mountain rage could melt, threatening the water supply and affecting millions of people. If left unchecked, the situation might even turn into a conflict for the most basic resources (water and food).

Climate, News

When NOT divesting hurts bad: California retirement funds lose $5 billion in a year by betting on coal

A coal merchant shovels coal at a coal yard in Melmerby, northern England. Photo: Telegraph

Two of the biggest pension funds in California have lost $5 billion in assets last year by sticking to their fossil fuel investments. The report released by Trillium Asset Management suggests that the loss was due to the huge dip in oil and coal prices registered between July 2014 and June 2015.

Climate, News

How much solar panels on your roof can save you? Ask Google

google rooftop

Most people have an outdated belief that solar energy is too expensive. For most people living in the United States, this isn’t true for some time and Google just released a new project to make a point of this. Called Project Sunroof, the tool uses extensive satellite imagery from Google Maps and superimposes sunlight energy flux data over them.

Climate, News, Science, World Problems

Ever-growing population and climate instability will lead to severe food shortages by 2050

foodshortages

The food industry has become much more efficient in the last few decades as a result of globalization, but also a lot more vulnerable to shocks. Climate change will lead not only to increased temperatures, but the extreme weather it causes in North, South America and Asia are likely to also lead to global food shortages.