Tag Archive | "environmental issues"

Study Calculates 2047 as the Year when Climate Exceeds Boundaries of the Last 150 years


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According to a recent study prepared by the University of Hawaii and published in Nature scientific journal on October 10th, unprecedented global changes are about to happen. Scientists predict the year at which the Earth’s climate will shift beyond the past 150 years’ variability as early as 2047 under the business-as-usual scenario and 2069 if greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) are stabilized. The “Projected Timing of Climate Departure from recent Variability” study adds new information supporting the global importance of switching to fossil-fuel free energy as soon as possible.

Historic variability and predictions for the next 100 years

Scientists have estimated the pace of climate change by calculating an index based on the minimum-maximum range of mean annual temperatures of 1860 – 2005 (the “historic variability”). The data comes from 39 Earth System Models developed independently by 21 climate centers in 12 different countries. ”The models have been effective at reproducing current climate conditions and varied in their projected departure times by no more than five years, which proves the study’s validity.

Starting from this historic variability, the scientists projected the temperatures of the next century, to discover the year when the mean annual temperature will exceed historic boundaries, defined as the year of the climate departure. The calculation method works for “any given location”, and projections were created covering the world’s major cities.

Mean annual earth’s near-surface air temperature calculations were essential, but the study also integrated additional climate variables such as precipitation and evaporation. The ocean’s surface temperature and pH were also taken into account to determine the biodiversity implications of climate change.

“Business-as-usual” versus stabilized GHG scenarios

There are two major scenarios of climate’s evolution depending on the future concentration of GHG in the atmosphere. If the concentration continues to grow, reaching 936 CO2 parts-per-million (ppm) by 2100 – the “business-as-usual” scenario RPC 85- the climate departure year will occur sooner. If the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration stabilizes at 538 ppm (RPC 45, or “optimistic” scenario), the process will be obviously delayed. However, calculations show that the difference between the two climate departure times is usually not longer than two decades.

Main results: tropics will be affected first, within a decadeClimate change

Depending on exact location on the earth, climate departure timing varies, but the overall figures are alarming. With the global average year of climate departure predicted just 34 years from now, major changes will occur much sooner for countries such as Indonesia – the city of Manokwari’s projected year is 2020 under stabilized GHG scenario and 2025 for the worst case scenario. India’s average projected year is 2045 / 2069 (optimistic / business-as-usual scenario), with major cities such as Mumbai having an earlier timing (2034 / 2051). Countries located along the tropics will be affected first: Nigerian city of Lagos will experience unprecedented climate warming in 2029 / 2043; Colombia’s capital Bogota’s projected years are 2033 / 2047;for Mexico City, the projected figures are 2031 / 2050.

The explanation why these countries are affected sooner relies in the existing geographic and climatic features of the tropics. This area has almost constant, hot and humid conditions that have registered little variation along the centuries. Therefore, their narrow climate boundaries can easily be exceeded by the fast changes in the earth’s atmosphere. To make matters worse, “small but fast changes in the climate could induce considerable biological responses in the tropics, because species there are probably adapted to narrow climate bounds”. This phenomenon will affect the area’s biodiversity in an unprecedented ay, with most species forced to rapidly adapt to the new changes either migrating to cooler areas or going extinct.

Implications of the study’s predictions and other views

This new research predicts that climate change will determine severe “ecological and societal disruptions”, due to the complexity of the worldwide symbiosis between natural resources and man-made systems. “The impacts on the tropics have implications globally as they are home to most of the world’s population, contribute significantly to total food supplies, and house much of the world’s biodiversity”. Food crisis is one of the most direct implications, but thinking at the whole food supply chain – from the fuel needed to transport the food to the supermarket to the energy it needed to process and preserve it under steady-state conditions in our refrigerators- prices will probably go up dramatically. This overarching phenomenon is already happening, and nowadays everybody seems to try to cope with the ever-increasing cost of daily life. Financial sites such as money.co.uk offer advice on reducing energy bills, by shopping for energy-efficient electrical appliances, for instance, as this is a common problem. Although the correlation between global warming and costs increasing may be criticized by skeptics, the Nature study is not the only warning issued recently. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just published its Fifth Report  in September 2013, warning that following a predicted 5 – 9 centigrade increase in global mean temperatures, food crisis is imminent. The report also states a 95% certainty that global warming is the product of anthropogenic-sourced GHG emissions.

USA’s projected climate departure timing

According to the University of Hawaii’s study, the USA’s average climate departure year is 2051 / 2078 (stabilized atmosphere/ business-as-usual scenarios), with Honolulu having the earliest timing (2043 / 2047) and Anchorage the latest (2071/2095). Depending on their location, major US cities will be affected by the unprecedented shift beyond recent climate variability as early as 2043 / 2073 (Phoenix, Arizona) or 2046 / 2075 (San Diego).For Washington DC and New York, the projected year of climate departure has been calculated as 2047 / 2071, while cities like Austin and Dallas will experience the phenomenon later (2058 / 2090 and 2063 / 2093). Across the nation, major changes will occur affecting life at all levels.

The need to develop alternative energy solutions across the world is becoming crucial in the light of this new research. This unprecedented climate shift will affect our lifestyle severely in a few decades, and the phenomenon will continue, affecting the future. As shown by the study, in order to delay the global implications of this phenomenon started in the industrial era, it is critical that we reduce greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.

 Autthor:  Melissa Whitehall

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Upstream Dashboard makes energy consumption a personal issue


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Energy Consumption

Upstream Dashboard tool designed to help consumers understand their impact on the environment

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory has developed a new online tool called the Upstream Dashboard that will help consumers understand the long-term impacts of their energy consumption habits. The Department of Energy has been keen to raise awareness surrounding energy consumption, efficiency, and conservation. The agency has made some progress in this endeavor, but believes that providing consumers with tools to help them understand the issue will make it more personal for them.

Tool provides information concerning energy consumption

The tool provides data on the lifecycle analysis of the consumption of energy produced through fossil-fuels and renewable sources. This data is collected from the beginning of the fuel production process, covering refinement of fossil-fuels such as crude oil, to the production of biofuels and the methods used to promote the growth of organisms that make this possible. This data can be combined with other information to form a model that depicts the consumption of energy and what impact it is having on the world.

Tool will help people better understand the effects of their energy habits

Using the Upstream Dashboard, consumers will be able to calculate the expected pollutants they produce through their consumption of energy. The tool will also provide them with information concerning their use of other resources, such as water, as well as provide information concerning the waste they are introducing to the environment. The tool will also help consumers formulate a conservation plan that will help them adopt more environmentally friendly habits.

Making environmental issues more personal may have positive results

The Upstream Dashboard is designed to make the issue of energy consumption and efficiency more personal. If the issue can take root with people on a personal level, it is more likely to be taken seriously. By showing people that their impact on the future will not be negligible, the Department of Energy believes that some environmental issues can begin receiving more attention and may finally find some resolution.

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Airbus taps Magna Steyr to craft a reliable, safe storage tank for hydrogen fuel


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The transportation industry has the largest dependency on fossil-fuels in the world. Of the various methods of travel available, none burns through oil more quickly than aircraft. In light of increasing awareness regarding environmental issues and the advocacy for alternatives to oil, several aerospace companies and investing in renewable energy in the effort to make air travel more eco-friendly. As companies investigate viable alternatives, hydrogen has become a popular option. On-board hydrogen fuel cells may be the answer to the oil problem.

Hydrogen is no stranger to the sky. Researchers, backed by influential airlines, are constantly experimenting with new ways to make the fuel an efficient and cost-effective successor to oil. There are several technologies being developed that will augment the abilities and overall performance of fuel cells, but such developments are still in the early stages of testing. In the meantime, there are other pressing issues to deal with. One the primary challenge faced thus far is the issue of storage.

One of the companies seeking to remedy the problem of storage is Magna Steyr, an engineer and assembler of automobiles for many of the world’s most prolific automakers. The company has ties with BMW and designed a fuel tank for the brand’s Hydrogen 7 series which could store hydrogen as a highly pressurized liquid.

Now, Airbus, the world’s leading aircraft manufacturer, has tapped Magna Streyr to design a similar storage tank to be used aboard next generation aircraft. The tank must Aircraft A330be durable and not susceptible to fluctuating temperatures, for the sake of stability.

The storage tank is currently in development. If all goes according to plan, Airbus will be utilizing the tank in their A320 aircrafts, which will be powered by an on-board hydrogen fuel cell.

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Talking green power on Earth Day 2011


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Earth Day is here, bringing to mind the number of environmental issues currently facing humanity. While such issues are subject to vehement debate, it is clear that changes need to be made in the way people look at the world. Breaking society’s reliance on oil is one of the most widely agreed upon issues of today, but solutions to this problem have been few and far between. Ethanol, once lauded as the future fuel of the world, proved to be more environmentally costly than its supporters had claimed. This has caused many to question whether alternative fuels really hold the answer.

As the demand rises for more eco-friendly technologies, more companies are turning to alternative energies. Wind, solar and nuclear power are all options that have produced either mediocre results of shown sufficient risk for catastrophic failure. Both wind and solar energies are capable of supporting a community en masse, but the construction of a system large enough to meet such demands far exceeds any budget established for such an endeavor. Faced with such a reality, many are now turning to hydrogen for an answer.

Hydrogen is the most abundant element known to man. Its production occurs naturally when an electric current is introduced to water through a process called electrolysis. Normally taking years, the process is expedited through the machinations of fuel cells, which use the hydrogen to generate electricity. The byproduct of the process is nothing more than water pure enough to drink.

More companies and organizations are making use of fuel cells because they offer the same, if not better, performance as systems relying on oil. Major technological adv

Earth Day 2011

ancements are making the fuel cells much more affordable and efficient, only lending to their credibility as the fuel of the future.

Adoption of hydrogen has been slow and long overdue. As society becomes ever more environmentally conscious, however, fuel cells are beginning to take their place as humanity’s best alternative to oil.

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Survey leans towards strong growth for hydrogen cars


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Hydrogen fuel cells seem to be on the minds of more car manufacturers these days. According to the 12th KPMG annual global automotive executive survey, 8 out of 10 executives believe that hydrogen powered vehicle sales will see profound growth over the next five years. The survey shows that there is still lingering skepticism about the fuel cells, however, as the adoption of fuel cells remains sparse throughout the industry.

Ashleigh Raine-Botha, a senior research analyst at KPMG, says that the majority of respondents do not expect to see reliable, cost effective hydrogen vehicles available on the mass market for at least five years. Though the survey shows that executives are optimistic about the future of fuel cells, they are also reserving their enthusiasm until advances in reliable technology can be made.

The survey shows that less than a third of respondents were influenced by environmental issues when purchasing a vehicle. Instead, they are more concerned with price and tend to gravitate toward less expensive vehicles.

Safety remains one of the most influential factors. 82% of respondents rate safety as their primary concern in regards to fuel cells.

Survey Says Hydrogen Fuel Cars Strong Growth in Next 5 Years

Though the survey shows that fuel cell vehicles are gaining support from industry executives, there are still many challenges that must be overcome before they become a viable alternative to conventional vehicles. Before the vehicles can be incorporated commercially, an infrastructure capable of supporting them must be established.

The KPMG survey is available via the KPMG website.

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Increase costs for fossil fuels spurs demand for commercial hydrogen uses


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Ballard Power Systems, a hydrogen fuel cell developer…

has confirmed the finalization of an arrangement to deliver hydrogen fuel cells to K2 Pure Solutions bleach plant in Pittsburgh, California. The plan was first announced in August last year and the company has been waiting on an air permit exemption from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District as well as a grant from California’s Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP).

Ballard confirms that it has now received both the air permit exemption and the grant from SGIP.

The fuel cell system developed by Ballard, the CLEARgen system, will convert hydrogen into clean electricity that will offset the power demand of the stat-of-the-art bleach plant. Ballard will begin installation in mid 2012.

More industrial companies have been making the change to hydrogen fuel cells in recent years, spurred by environmental issues and the increasing cost of fossil-fuels. Ballard is among the foremost providers of hydrogen fuel cells for these companies.

Skepticism abounds as to the viability of hydrogen fuel, due to the challenges in storage and lack of infrastructure. These challenges are already being overcome by advancements in technology and more efficient methods of hydrogen production. Ballard is aiming to prove that hydrogen is not only viable, but necessary to power the future.

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