Archive for May, 2008

Published by Diana on 30 May 2008

That Sinking Feeling

The May 10, 2008 issue of Science News has a fascinating article called Down With Carbon, in which they explore some methods of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Some methods are:

  • Fertilizing the oceans with iron, which causes a plankton bloom, which then sinks to the bottom of the ocean and takes the carbon with it
  • Using zeolites–minerals that trap other substances in their internal structure–to trap the carbon dioxide
  • Sinking liquid carbon dioxide in the ocean
  • Burying trees
  • Trapping carbon dioxide in volcanic rock or saline layers

This links to the article:
Clearing the Air, what science can do to capture carbon dioxide .

Published by Rosalind on 20 May 2008

Thinking About Your Carbon Footprint

More and more people worldwide are thinking about ways to reduce their personal or business carbon footprints. Your carbon footprint is basically how much CO2 you are putting into the atmosphere. There are so many ways that we contribute that CO2, ranging from home energy use (heating, cooling, lighting, cooking) to transportation (car, train, bus, plane) and consumption (manufacturing use, how far goods — including food — travel) and it’s hard to calculate your personal share. If you look online, you’ll find many different carbon calculators. Two that are frequently recommended are the EPA Carbon Calculator and the “Inconvenient Truth” Carbon Calculator .
Once you figure out your carbon footprint, you can begin to work on ways to reduce it, whether by using more renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, or by cutting your energy use. You can also find eco-footprint calculators, which rate your impact on the global ecosystem in other areas, such as pollutants and toxic chemicals.

Published by Diana on 15 May 2008

Global Warming is Threatening the Polar Bear

“The polar bear, whose summertime Arctic hunting grounds have been greatly reduced by a warming climate, will be placed under the protection of the Endangered Species Act,” says the New York Times in this article: Polar Bear is Made a Protected Species .

To me, what is most interesting about the listing of the Polar Bear as “protected” (which is a legal term that indicates certain laws fall into place) is that the Interior Secretary, Dirk Kempthorne, would clearly have preferred NOT to list the Polar Bear. While the listing acknowledges that the reduction in Arctic sea ice (caused by global warming, according to scientists) threatens the Polar Bear’s survival, long-term, the comments made by the Secretary make it clear he doesn’t think anything needs to be done about global warming–at the same time, the ruling doesn’t change the regulations on the oil and gas industry one bit.

Published by Diana on 14 May 2008

Your Carbon Footprint

I had a conversation today with some friends about reducing gas use. It got me thinking about my overall carbon footprint–how much oil/natural gas/petroleum I use–both on a daily basis and on a lifetime basis. What goes into a personal carbon footprint?

How much traveling you do: cars, planes, trains–they all use energy
How much traveling your food does: the farther your food comes from, the more energy it uses getting to you.
How much fertilizer your food requires to grow (and how much goes on your lawn): many fertilizers are made from petroleum sources
How much lawn you have: mowing and fertilizing a lawn takes a lot of oil–more than trees (which absorb carbon) or shrubs (which also absorb carbon)
How big your house is: bigger houses use more resources, both to heat and cool and to build
How big your car is and how much you drive

A tiny step I’ve taken toward a smaller carbon footprint: I grow some of my food–not much, just a little–and I try to shop at my local farmers’ market. I’m also trying not to drive on Fridays.

Published by Rosalind on 09 May 2008

Arctic Research Continues

Scientific efforts to find out what’s happening to the Arctic ice cap and to the polar bears who live there are continuing. In 2009, the Arctic Survey project plans to send a team of explorers to travel across the Arctic on foot, measuring the thickness of the ice. The team will be led by Arctic explorer Pen Hadow. The “on the ice” measurements will help scientists see what is actually happening and refine their computer simulations. Current predictions show the ice disappearing in the next 5 to 100 years, which will change the face of the Arctic completely. Read about the planned expedition — the Arctic Survey .