A strategy to protect whales can limit greenhouse gases and global warming
By Ralph Chami, Thomas Cosimano, Connel Fullenkamp, and Sena Oztosun – When it comes to saving the planet, one whale is worth thousands of trees.
Scientific research now indicates more clearly than ever that our carbon footprint—the release of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere where it contributes to global warming through the so-called greenhouse effect—now threatens our ecosystems and our way of life. But efforts to mitigate climate change face two significant challenges. The first is to find effective ways to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere or its impact on average global temperature. The second is to raise sufficient funds to put these technologies into practice.
Many proposed solutions to global warming, such as capturing carbon directly from the air and burying it deep in the earth, are complex, untested, and expensive. What if there were a low-tech solution to this problem that not only is effective and economical, but also has a successful funding model?
An example of such an opportunity comes from a surprisingly simple and essentially “no-tech” strategy to capture more carbon from the atmosphere: increase global whale populations. Marine biologists have recently discovered that whales—especially the great whales—play a significant role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere (Roman and others 2014).
The carbon capture potential of whales is truly startling. Whales accumulate carbon in their bodies during their long lives. When they die, they sink to the bottom of the ocean; each great whale sequesters 33 tons of CO2 on average, taking that carbon out of the atmosphere for centuries. A tree, meanwhile, absorbs only up to 48 pounds of CO2 a year.
Protecting whales could add significantly to carbon capture because the current population of the largest great whales is only a small fraction of what it once was. Sadly, after decades of industrialized whaling, biologists estimate that overall whale populations are now to less than one fourth what they once were. Some species, like the blue whales, have been reduced to only 3 percent of their previous abundance. Thus, the benefits from whales’ ecosystem services to us and to our survival are much less than they could be.
But this is only the beginning of the story. more>
Posted in Business, EARTH WATCH, Economy, Education, Energy & emissions, How to, Nature, Science, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, Carbon capture and storage, Climate change, Earth, Ecology, Whales
By Akshat Rathi – The optimism surrounding renewable energy masks some harsh realities. Despite decades of progress, about 80% of the world’s energy still comes from fossil fuels—the same as in the 1970s. Since then, we’ve kept adding renewable capacity, but it hasn’t outpaced the growth of the world’s population and its demand for energy.
Today, about 30% of total world energy (and 40% of the world’s electricity) is supplied by coal, which emits more carbon dioxide per unit of energy produced than nearly any other fuel source.
The hugely valuable oil and gas industries, accounting for 33% and 24% of total world energy use, respectively, are also entrenched. “Based on what we know now, we would need major technological breakthroughs or weak world growth, including for large emerging and developing economies, for oil demand to peak in the next 20 years,” says Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti of the International Monetary Fund. Despite the growth in electric vehicles, most oil companies agree that peak oil is “not in sight.”
If you’re still not convinced, consider this: there are a handful of industries essential to the modern way of life that generate large amounts of carbon dioxide as a side product of the chemistry of their manufacturing process. These carbon-intensive industries—including cement, steel, and ethanol—produce about 20% of all global emissions.
If we want to keep using these products and reach zero emissions, the only option is to have these industries deploy carbon capture. more>
Posted in Business, EARTH WATCH, Economic development, Economy, Energy & emissions, History, Leadership, Media, Net, Science, Technology, Transportation
Tagged Carbon capture and storage, Climate change, Earth, Financial crisis, Super regions, Technology
By S. Julio Friedmann – The world is emitting more carbon dioxide than even the worst-case IPCC models allow. In 2010, roughly 35 billion tons of man-made CO2 entered the atmosphere — about 70 times the weight of all human beings on earth. That annual volume is about seven billion tons more than it was in 2004, largely because of rapid economic growth in developing countries.
Unfortunately, energy technology, on the whole, has not evolved fast enough to cope with the CO2 problem. Novel nuclear reactor research continues, including new fuel cycles (like thorium), proliferation-resistant designs, new “inherently safe” designs, and lower-cost approaches. However, the tragedy of the tsunami-induced reactor failures in Japan has delayed the deployment of new nuclear technologies. more> http://twurl.nl/posymb
Posted in EARTH WATCH, Economic development, Economy, Energy & emissions, Nature, Regulations, Science, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, Carbon capture and storage, Carbon dioxide, Climate change, Earth, Ecology, En, Energy, Industrial economy, Japan, Nuclear, Nuclear reactor technology, Renewable energy, Safety, Super regions, Test & measurement