Posts Tagged ‘carbon dioxide’

Everything You Need to Know About Obama’s New Climate-Change Rules

Friday, June 6th, 2014

On Monday, President Obama unveiled details of the cornerstone of his climate plan: Limits on carbon-dioxide emissions from the nation’s fleet of existing power plants. The rules are likely to be the biggest step toward the president’s goal of cutting U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions 17 percent by 2020. The rules are already taking heat from the fossil-fuel industry and Republicans in Congress, despite having the support of a majority of Americans. So what’s all the hullabaloo about, exactly? Here’s what you need to know:

Why regulate carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants?

By now it’s well established that carbon dioxide from human activities is the single biggest driver of climate change. The news this month that severe glacial melting in Antarctica has already nearly guaranteed up to 10 feet of global sea level rise was just the latest reminder of the dire need to slash our carbon pollution. Power plants and vehicles are the two biggest sources of this pollution in the United States, accounting for about 38 and 31 percent of carbon emissions, respectively. The Obama administration has already taken aim at motor vehicles; it placed new emissions limits on cars in 2009 and ordered them forheavy-duty trucks this year. But there are currently no restrictions—at all—on how much carbon pollution the nation’s existing fleet of power plants can produce.

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Carbon Dioxide Passes Global 400 ppm Milestone

Friday, May 30th, 2014

A new carbon dioxide milestone has been reached according to the World Meteorological Agency. Average carbon dioxide measurements at all monitoring stations in the northern hemisphere were above 400 parts per million for the month of April, the first time that’s been recorded in human history.

Previous reports from the Mauna Loa Observatory, the longest continually running CO2 monitoring site in the world, showed that the average CO2 concentration for April was above 400 ppm. On Monday, the WMO reported that the 11 other northern hemisphere monitoring stations that continuously monitor CO2 also surpassed the 400 ppm mark for the month.

“This should serve as yet another wake-up call about the constantly rising levels of greenhouse gases, which are driving climate change. If we are to preserve our planet for future generations, we need urgent action to curb new emissions of these heat trapping gases,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a press release.

Atmospheric CO2 levels follow a seasonal pattern in the northern hemisphere, rising throughout the winter and peaking in late spring when blooming plants start to suck CO2 out of the air. Monitoring stations closer to the equator, where there’s less seasonality, and in the southern hemisphere, where there’s less land, don’t show the same dramatic fluctuations throughout the year.

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Deep-buried carbon may pose climate risk: study

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Stocks of organic carbon buried deep underground could pose a global warming threat if disturbed by erosion, farming, deforestation, mining or road-building, a study warned today.

Scientists from the United States and Germany discovered one such reserve in Nebraska, up to 6.5 metres under the surface, composed mainly of vast quantities of burnt plant material.

“We found almost comparable amounts of carbon stored in this deep soil layer than we would in the top one metre of soil under a grassland vegetation,” study co-author Erika Marin-Spiotta of the University of Wisconsin-Madison told AFP.

The find suggested “that we are potentially grossly underestimating how much carbon is stored below ground in our global inventories.”

Such ancient fossil soils are found all over the world under river, volcano and other sediments, said Marin-Spiotta.

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U.S. Climate Has Already Changed, Study Finds, Citing Heat and Floods

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

The effects of human-induced climate change are being felt in every corner of the United States, scientists reported Tuesday, with water growing scarcer in dry regions, torrential rains increasing in wet regions, heat waves becoming more common and more severe, wildfires growing worse, and forests dying under assault from heat-loving insects.

Such sweeping changes have been caused by an average warming of less than 2 degrees Fahrenheit over most land areas of the country in the past century, the scientists found. If greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane continue to escalate at a rapid pace, they said, the warming could conceivably exceed 10 degrees by the end of this century.

“Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” the scientists declared in a major new report assessing the situation in the United States.

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Durbin talks FutureGen with energy secretary

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says he met with Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz to discuss the FutureGen clean-coal project.

Durbin said in a news release that he met with Muniz on Wednesday to discuss the department’s commitment to the long-planned public-private project. Durbin said he stressed the importance he sees in keeping it on track.

The department is providing $1 billion to the $1.68 billion project.

The plan calls for capturing carbon dioxide from a coal-burning power plant in the Morgan County village of Meredosia. The carbon dioxide would then be injected into underground wells near Jacksonville, about 20 miles to the east and stored.

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