Jet Contrails Worse for Climate Change Than Aircraft Carbon Emissions

By John Timmer, Ars Technica

Air travel has come under fire for its potential contributions to climate change. Most people probably assume that its impact comes through carbon emissions, given that aircraft burn significant amounts of fossil fuel to stay aloft. But the carbon released by air travel remains a relatively minor part of the…

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.wired.com

>” […]Others include the emissions of particulates high in the atmosphere, the production of nitrogen oxides and the direct production of clouds through contrail water vapor.

Over time, these thin lines of water evolve into “contrail cirrus” clouds that lose their linear features and become indistinguishable from the real thing.

Although low-altitude clouds tend to cool the planet by reflecting sunlight, high-altitude clouds like cirrus have an insulating effect and actually enhance warming.

To figure out the impact of these cirrus clouds, the authors created a module for an existing climate model (theECHAM4) that simulated the evolution of aircraft-induced cirrus clouds (they could validate some of the model’s output against satellite images of contrails).

They found hot spots of these clouds over the United States and Europe, as well as the North Atlantic travel corridor.

Smaller affects were seen in East Asia and over the northern Pacific. Over central Europe, values peaked at about 10 percent, in part because the output of the North Atlantic corridor drifted in that direction.

On their own, aircraft-generated cirrus produces a global climate forcing of about 40 milliwatts per square meter. (In contrast, the solar cycle results in changes of about a full watt/M2.)

But these clouds suppressed the formation of natural cirrus clouds, which partially offset the impact of the aircraft-generated ones, reducing the figure to about 30 mW/M2. That still leaves it among the most significant contribution to the climate produced by aircraft.

Some reports have suggested we might focus on makingengines that emit less water vapor, but the water is a necessary byproduct of burning hydrocarbon.

We’ll almost certainly be accomplishing that as a result of rising fuel prices, and will limit carbon emissions at the same time.

The nice thing is that, in contrast to the long atmospheric lifespan of CO2, if we can cause any changes in cloud formation, they’ll have an impact within a matter of days. […]”<

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E.P.A. Proposal to Regulate GHG Emissions and Fuel Economy for HD Trucks

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to propose rules requiring heavy trucks to increase their fuel economy by up to 40 percent by 2027.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.nytimes.com

>” […] This week, the E.P.A. is expected to propose regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions from heavy-duty trucks, requiring that their fuel economy increase up to 40 percent by 2027, compared with levels in 2010, according to people briefed on the proposal. A tractor-trailer now averages five to six miles a gallon of diesel. The new regulations would seek to raise that average to as much as nine miles a gallon. A truck’s emissions can vary greatly, depending on how much it is carrying.

The hotly debated rules, which cover almost any truck larger than a standard pickup, are the latest in a stack of sweeping climate change policy measures on which President Obama hopes to build his environmental legacy. Already, his administration has proposed rules to cut emissions from power plants and has imposed significantly higher fuel efficiency standards on passenger vehicles.

The truck proposals could cut millions of tons of carbon dioxide pollution while saving millions of barrels of oil. Trucks now account for a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles in the United States, even though they make up only 4 percent of traffic, the E.P.A. says.

But the rules will also impose significant burdens on America’s trucking industry — the beating heart of the nation’s economy, hauling food, raw goods and other freight across the country.

It is expected that the new rules will add $12,000 to $14,000 to the manufacturing cost of a new tractor-trailer, although E.P.A. studies estimate that cost will be recouped after 18 months by fuel savings.

Environmental advocates say that without regulation, the contribution of American trucks to global warming will soar.

“Trucking is set to be a bad actor if we don’t do something now,” Jason Mathers, head of the Green Freight program at the Environmental Defense Fund.

But some in the trucking industry are wary.

“I’ll put it this way: We told them what we can do, but they haven’t told us what they plan to do,” said Tony Greszler, vice president for government relations for Volvo Group North America, one of the largest manufacturers of big trucks. “We have concerns with how this will play out.”

The E.P.A., along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, began its initial phase of big truck fuel economy regulation in 2011, and those efforts have been widely seen within the industry as successful. But meeting the initial standards, like using more efficient tires, was not especially difficult by comparison. […]”

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California’s Carbon Cap-and-Trade Fund Attracts Energy Industry Project Proposals

With California’s growing cap-and-trade program expected to yield a budgetary bonanza, lawmakers and interest groups have ample ideas for how to spend the money. Floating proposals ahead of a pivotal period for budget negotiations, they say they want to fund port improvements, pay for heavy-duty trucks and ferries, nurture urban rivers, sponge up carbon in soil and provide discounted bus passes.

Image source:  http://mammothlakeshousing.com/120-million-available-through-cap-and-trade-funds-for-affordable-housing-in-ca/

Source: www.sacbee.com

>”[…] Seeking to counteract climate change, lawmakers in 2006 authorized California to establish its first-in-the-nation carbon auction program, compelling businesses to purchase allowances for what they pump into the atmosphere.

By this time last year, the system already had generated hundreds of millions of dollars that were parceled out via the budget, including a controversial annual outlay to support high-speed rail. But this year is different: Oil and gas producers have been obligated to buy permits for the first time, likely generating a multibillion-dollar influx.

“With transportation fuels coming under the cap, there will be more money for years to come. That changes the dynamic,” said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles. “Because there’s going to be a lot more money, there’s going to be that many more projects competing for dollars.”

Gov. Jerry Brown’s January proposal underestimated the amount available in the coming fiscal year by as much as $3.9 billion and most likely by around $1.3 billion, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. The updated numbers will come this week in Brown’s May revision.

Per a formula established in last year’s budget agreement, 60 percent of the auction dollars will flow to areas such as high-speed rail, urban transit and housing. The remaining 40 percent is up for debate in the Legislature.  […]

The competing proposals raise a larger question about what type of project qualifies. Money spent out of the cap-and-trade fund must verifiably work to curtail the greenhouses gases that fuel climate change.

“It is a fee, and we want to spend it appropriately,” said Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, who carried the bill establishing the program.

Critics assailed Brown last year for directing revenue to the high-speed rail project, arguing that carbon reductions wouldn’t materialize for years. Legislative leaders are scrutinizing ideas this year and filtering out proposals that don’t pass muster.

At de León’s prodding, a Senate bill seeking to clean up urban watersheds was amended to seek funding from a different source. Another proposal floated by a range of environmental and community activist groups argued for subsidized bus passes.

“We know that the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in California is from transportation, so there a number of ways we are addressing that, and one way of getting cars off the road is improving the choices in public transit,” said Magavern, whose organization was among those making the proposal.

In his January budget, Brown proposed using the money over which lawmakers have control on an array of areas, including energy-efficiency upgrades for public buildings, waste diversion and fire prevention (forest fires pour huge amounts of carbon-thick smoke into the air). That largely holds the line on last year’s proposals.

A potential addition would direct dollars to help water resources. As a prolonged drought has prompted extraordinary conservation mandates from Brown, the administration has been studying the ways in which energy and water overlap.

There, too, policymakers have experts working to quantify how much energy is used in transporting and heating water. If they can establish they’re reducing emissions, they can tap into the cap-and-trade money.

“There are a lot of really smart people working on getting this right,” said Pavley, who has a bill directing the state to study the energy footprint of water systems. “I think it opens up an amazing possible win-win for expenditure of auction revenues.”

With a growing pile of money spurring interest, Pavley said, officials must be vigilant about keeping their focus on cutting greenhouse gases. Sacramento suffers from no shortage of ideas for spending money, but not all of them fit that framework. […]”<

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IMF Reports Global Energy Subsidies are Unmanageable, Inefficient and Reinforce Inequality

A new report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) urged policymakers the world over to reform subsidies for products from coal to gasoline, arguing that this could translate into major gains both for economic growth and the environment.

Image Source:  http://bit.ly/1LO0yQb

Source: www.imf.org

>” […] In a speech at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington D.C., marking the release of the paper, IMF First Deputy Managing Director David Lipton noted that “subsidy reform can lead to a more efficient allocation of resources, which will help spur higher economic growth over the longer term.” Removing energy subsidies can also strengthen incentives for “research and development in energy-saving and alternative technologies,” he said. He also noted that, while intended to benefit consumers, subsidies are often inefficient and “could be replaced with better means of protecting the most vulnerable parts of the population.”

“The paper shows that for some countries the fiscal weight of energy subsidies is growing so large that budget deficits are becoming unmanageable and threaten the stability of the economy,” Mr. Lipton said, adding that IMF research shows that 20 countries maintain pre-tax energy subsidies that exceed 5 percent of GDP. For other emerging and developing countries, he said, the share of the scarce government resources spent on subsidies remains “a stumbling block” to higher growth and fundamentally impairs their future. “Because of low prices, there is little investment in much-needed infrastructure. More is spent on subsidies than on public health and education, undermining the development of human capital.”

Energy subsidies also reinforce inequality because they mostly benefit upper-income groups, which are the biggest consumers of energy. “On average, the richest 20 percent of households in low- and middle-income countries capture 43 percent of fuel subsidies,” said Mr. Lipton.

At the same time, Mr. Lipton warned that an increase in prices which can result from subsidy reform can have a significant impact on the poor and that “mitigating measures to protect them as subsidy reform is implemented” must be an integral part of any successful and equitable reform program.

In addition, Mr. Lipton noted that “subsidies aggravate climate change and worsen local pollution and congestion.” The study finds that eliminating pre-tax subsidies would reduce global CO2 emissions by about 1-2 percent which would, by itself, represent “a significant first step in reducing emissions by delivering about 15-30 percent of the Copenhagen Accord’s goal.” As for advanced economies, he noted that subsidies most often take the form of taxes that are too low to capture the true costs to society of energy use (“tax subsidies”), including pollution and road congestion. “Eliminating energy tax subsidies would deliver even more significant emissions reductions said Mr. Lipton, reducing “CO2 emissions by 4.5 billion tons, a 13 percent reduction.” […]”<

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Climate Change, Pole Shift & Solar Weather

Scientists tell us that our magnetic poles have reversed in the past, and that they will again. The last one occurred 780,000 years ago. The average time period between reversals is 450,000 years, but there isn’t really any pattern, it is random. We are overdue by average only.

Source: poleshift.com

>” […] Accelerating

This is indisputable – the speed at which the magnetic north pole is moving (not necessarily in the same direction) has recently become much faster. Because this is the entirety of our studies, we don’t know what was normal prior to the 1500s… […]

Not only are the poles moving rapidly – the strength of our magnetic field is diminishing as well:

Rapid changes in the churning movement of Earth’s liquid outer core are weakening the magnetic field in some regions of the planet’s surface, a new study says.

“What is so surprising is that rapid, almost sudden, changes take place in the Earth’s magnetic field,” said study co-author Nils Olsen, a geophysicist at the Danish National Space Center in Copenhagen.

…The changes “may suggest the possibility of an upcoming reversal of the geomagnetic field,” said study co-author Mioara Mandea, a scientist at the German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam. [National Geographic]

[…] Possible Triggers

Scientists have not yet worked out what causes a magnetic reversal, but recent studies of Mercury suggest that the solar wind and particles from the Sun have an effect on planetary cores. My interpretation is that a massive solar storm could be thestraw that breaks the camel’s back and trigger a reversal if the Earth is ready for one. The Electric Universe folk have also suggested that a highly-charged comet passing by could also do the trick. Or perhaps ocean currents, after being affected by climate change, are the trigger? And if climate change is caused by the Sun, then that ties in nicely with the first theory.

Another theory comes from  Rich Muller:

where “lighter components, like oxygen, sulfur, and silicon . . . rise toward the core-mantle boundary (CMB).” Accumulating like sediment on the floor of the ocean, these “fall” upward from the core onto the surface of the mantle, which is uneven like the topography of the Earth’s surface. When enough sediment collects, it tumbles like an avalanche, into the outer core, thereby cooling it.

Rare events could trigger really big avalanches at the CMB, however. When a massive asteroid or comet slammed into Earth’s surface at an oblique angle, the lower mantle would jerk sideways, shearing off whole mountains of sediment. As the sediments slide up, a downward-sinking mass of cool iron could completely disrupt large convection cells. Although variously oriented local fields within the core would remain strong, at the surface Earth’s dipole magnetic field would collapse.

And according to Gary Glatzmaier reversals are rooted in chaos theory:

The resulting three-dimensional numerical simulation of the geodynamo, run on parallel supercomputers at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and the Los Alamos National Laboratory, now spans more than 300,000 years.

Our solution shows how convection in the fluid outer core is continually trying to reverse the field but that the solid inner core inhibits magnetic reversals because the field in the inner core can only change on the much longer time scale of diffusion. Only once in many attempts is a reversal successful, which is probably the reason why the times between reversals of the Earth’s field are long and randomly distributed.

[…]”<

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Buildings are biggest source of GHG’s in Vancouver & City recommends Energy Retrofits

Buildings spew more than half of all Vancouver’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions every year and detached houses are the biggest culprit […] That fact is key to a staff recommendation that council adopt an energy retrofit strategy for existing buildings to drastically cut GHG emissions.

Source: www.vancouversun.com

>”About 40,000 of Vancouver’s 77,000 detached homes were built before 1960. The report said most older homes could improve their energy efficiency with weather sealing, wall and attic insulation, furnace/boiler/hot water heater replacements and replacing old windows with new energy-efficient glazing.

About 55 per cent of GHG emissions in Vancouver come from buildings and of those detached homes create 31 per cent of building emissions, the report said.

That compares with industry’s 20-per-cent share and 18 per cent from multi-unit residential buildings.

The city’s Greenest City Action Plan has targeted a 20-per-cent reduction in GHG emissions from Vancouver buildings by 2020, which would eliminate 160,000 tonnes of emissions annually — the equivalent of taking 40,000 cars off the road.

The report recommends the city partner with BC Hydro and/or FortisBC to study the effectiveness of using thermal imaging to identify poorly insulated homes.

[…]

… common energy-efficient building practices today include using vinyl or wood window frames instead of aluminum, along with the use of heat pumps, solar panels and drainwater recovery systems.

But Kerchum noted it can cost nothing to improve a home’s energy efficiency.

[…]

A recent Vancouver city initiative to improve energy efficiency in Vancouver homes — the Home Energy Loan Program — had a very low participation rate among homeowners.

The program called for homeowners to have an energy audit by a federally licensed auditor, who would recommend the best ways to reduce a home’s carbon footprint.”<

Lord Lawson declares UK’s climate model ‘flawed’

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Lord Lawson is calling for an independent review of the UK’s official climate predictions as he claims the model used to make the projections is “flawed”. Based on research published …

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>The thinktank claims predictions made by it will “always produce high estimates of future warming” regardless of the data fed into the process.

The HadCM3 model is used for official UK Climate Projections (UKCP09), which provide information to help plan how to adapt to a changing climate. It generates a virtual representation of the global climate such as the greenhouse effect, evaporation of the oceans, rainfall and sunlight. By increasing the greenhouse gases in the model, predictions on how much warmer the planet will become in the future can be made.

The UK’s climate model is also used to help make investment decisions across the public and private sectors and as estimates of future warming generated by the Government’s model are “much higher than those implied by several recent studies”, they are likely to “lead to considerable malinvestments” of public and private funds, GWPF claims.

Andrew Montford, author of the GWPF briefing paper said: “There are potentially billions of pounds being misspent on the basis of these predictions. The Government has little choice but to withdraw them pending a review of the way they are put together.”

The Met Office defended its methods and rubbished the criticism.

The organisation said in a statement: “UKCP09 used a sophisticated method that used both model projections and observations to provide a range of potential future warming which attempts to take in the uncertainties in model parameters. The GWPF article fails to note that UKCP09 also used information from many other climate models and that the projections were independently reviewed prior to publication.”<

See on www.energylivenews.com

EPA sets terms for New Power Plant carbon emissions

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Frances Beinecke: We’re already paying the costs of climate change. The new power plant emissions standards could not be more timely

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>The carbon standards announced Friday by Gina McCarthy, administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency, will set reasonable limits on carbon pollution from the power plants of tomorrow, those that are yet to be built.<

See on www.theguardian.com

Global Warming – Paused or Peaked? – draft U.N. report

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OSLO (Reuters) – A “hiatus” in global warming so far this century is partly caused by natural variations in a chaotic climate and is unlikely to last, a draft United Nations report by leading climate scientists says.

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>The fact that temperatures have risen more slowly in the past 15 years despite rising emissions of greenhouse gases has emboldened sceptics who challenge the evidence for man-made climate change and question the need for urgent action.

But the IPCC draft reports do not project any long-term respite. Instead, they forecast a resumption in the warming trend that is likely to cause ever more heatwaves, droughts, floods and rising sea levels. […]

“There are a number of explanations (for the hiatus), any one of which might be correct,” said professor Myles Allen of Oxford University, who contributed to the IPCC draft. “That is very different from saying:’We have no idea what’s going on’.”

The drafts say that a reduction in warming for 1998-2012 compared to 1951-2012 is “due in roughly equal measure” to natural variations in the climate and factors such as “volcanic eruptions and the downward phase of the current solar cycle.”<

See on news.yahoo.com

Reshaping Corporations: Can Divestment Work?

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With enough collective action, mass divestment campaigns can be effective in creating social change. 

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>To be effective, a huge amount of money must be withdrawn from a company. Where boycotting unites individual buyers to have impact, individual stockowners aren’t likely to make a huge enough hit with divestment or negative investing for a corporation to take notice. Institutional owners, though, could impact a company or industry because collectively they control vast amounts. 

The Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign

The current student campaign to divest from fossil fuels is interesting. For example, Harvard has $30 billion in endowment while Yale has $16.7 billion.

While it’s clearly not all in one company or industry, what kind of impact could university endowments have if they withdrew from fossil fuel companies and allied industries? By my count, there are well over a hundred campaigns at universities around the nation, and there are additional groups working to get towns and communities to join the fight. As a collective action, the potential for these divestment campaigns is fascinating to ponder.

Mass Divestment Creates Cultural Change

Perhaps the most important thing divestment shares with boycotting is publicity.  The attention that a mass divestment can bring to an issue could be profound. The student fossil fuels divestment effort is garnering national media attention, and rather than fizzling out seems to be gaining momentum. This attention could be as effective as actual divestment for dealing with climate change and fossil fuel issues. 

As Cecelie Counts wrote in January, divestment was just one tool used to combat apartheid and bring change in South Africa. I don’t know if there will be mass divestment among universities, but I suspect that this campaign will be successful in the long run because it’s educating a generation and could create the cultural change necessary to pursue long-term alternatives, change policy and pressure energy companies to adapt.<

See on csrwire.sharedby.co