NASA has a pretty good website describing climate change. This graphic shows the rise of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere over 650,000 years. There are natural variations and cycles, which has caused climate to change over time. Those peaks and dips correspond with hot, normal, and cool periods over thousands of years, for example. But never before has there been an event like the one we are causing today. This spike in CO2 and other emissions has never happened in earth’s history.

Longtime followers know that - based on the evidence (i.e., first line, page 4) - it’s nearly impossible to stop or reverse this rise. So, I suppose, NASA’s page is a real-time recording of impending doom.

In one of the more inevitable developments in modern business history, Martin Winterkorn, the head of Volkswagen, resigned on Wednesday.

“I am shocked by the events of the past few days,” he said in a statement. “Above all, I am stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen Group.”

Winterkorn was of course referring to the mega-scandal that has engulfed Volkswagen in the past week, ever since the Environmental Protection Agency revealed that the company had committed massive industrial and environmental fraud.

His shock must be taken with a huge grain of salt. Volkswagen had installed software in millions of its diesel cars that ensured that the cars could fool environmental regulatory tests. When the cars were actually driven on the road, the software shut down the pollution controls that had been in place during the tests, and the cars then emitted up to 40 times the amount of pollution allowed in the United States. Air pollution is causing immense harm to our health and that of the earth, but Volkswagen apparently didn’t care. If Winterkorn didn’t know this was happening, he would have been the most out-of-touch CEO in corporate history.

The German carmaker’s CEO resigned yesterday after a massive emissions coverup was exposed

‘What the EPA decides clearly makes a difference as to how much mercury people consume.’

The levels of mercury found in bluefish in the Atlantic have fallen 43 percent since 1972. The authors of a new study, published Tuesday in the Environmental Science and Technology Journal, think this drop has a “tight correlation” with reductions in pollution from North American power plants over the same time period.  

Originally posted by photographyofdavidhanjani

Emissions from coal-fired plants are the largest source of mercury in the atmosphere, and that mercury winds up in our waterways and oceans through rain. Mercury is bioaccumulative, which means its concentrations build up in the tissues of animals as the neurotoxin travels higher and higher up the food chain. Bluefish, which are large predators that migrate up and down the Atlantic from Maine to Florida, have some of the highest amounts of mercury found in any fish. Like other top predators such as tuna, they are considered the primary source of mercury in humans. Among U.S. coastal areas, women in the East have the highest levels of mercury in their blood.

Originally posted by dayle-was-here

Although a move to further limit mercury emissions under the Clean Air Act was nixed by the Supreme Court last month, efforts over the decades to reduce the toxins coming out of smokestacks have had an impact. A report last year looking at the top 100 U.S. electric-power producers found that mercury emissions fell 50 percent between 2000 and 2012.  The researchers of this week’s study compared mercury levels in fish from 1972 with those caught in 2011 to see what difference the drop in emissions may have made in marine ecosystems.

Originally posted by chrissdreaming-of-you

“What the EPA decides clearly makes a difference as to how much mercury people consume,” Richard Barber, professor emeritus of biological oceanography at Duke University, told Environmental Health News.

It’s worth noting, however, that the seafood Americans consume comes from all over the globe, and mercury pollution knows no borders. Check out this seafood guide, compiled by NRDC (disclosure), to find some less toxic options.

Originally posted by everybody-loves-to-eat

The Toyota Mirai

In Japanese, “mirai” means “future,” and the Mirai is the future of motoring: It runs solely on hydrogen and its only emissions are water. Expected later in 2015, the Mirai initially will be sold or leased just in California, where the infrastructure for hydrogen fueling exists. Range is around 300 miles, refueling will take about five minutes, and fuel is included for the first three years of ownership.



The impacts of global warming reaching levels of 4 or 5 degrees Celsius will be catastrophic, fundamentally undermining the ability of millions of humans to live on the planet. However, should we continue at current rates, trends in carbon emissions show that we are projected to reach such temperature rises during this century.  

One of the main aspects of the ongoing COP21 climate change conference in Paris is focused on individual carbon emission pledges submitted by participant nations in the run up to the summit (known as INDCs) to prevent such an eventuality.

While a target of holding global temperature rises below 2°C as a ‘safe’ limit for global warming has been set, the cumulative impact of these pledges would result in rise of 2.7°C- crossing the 2 degree threshold.

In addition, there has been increasing attention on, and support for, the need to actually set a stricter target- of 1.5°C rather than 2 degrees- with scientific analysis asserting the risks of major climate impacts significantly increases in the jump from 1.5 to 2 degrees.

With these numbers being repeatedly mentioned and discussed in the media associated with the summit, I thought to try and gather some graphics that indicate some of the tangible social and biophysical impacts that these incremental temperature rises are likely to have- from the scientifically suggested necessary limit of 1.5 degrees, through to the possibility of a 5 degree increase from a ‘business as usual’ scenario.

The first image links the potential impacts from increased global temperatures (sourced from Australian Government Climate Change Authority, based on work in the IPCC’s 4th Assessment Report from 2007) to various emissions scenarios relevant to COP21- ie resulting from taking no action, following current policies, meeting Paris summit pledges, staying within the 2 degree limit (sourced from a BBC article, based on work by Climate Action Tracker).  

The second image presents some of the differential climate impacts between global warming of 1.5°C compared to 2°C (sourced from recent analysis by Climate Analytics).

5 Amazing Articles about Environmental Damage of Extracting Fossil Fuels

The New Abolitionism by Christopher Hayes - Averting planetary disaster will mean forcing fossil fuel companies to give up at least $10 trillion in wealth

Scraping Bottom by Robert Kunzig - Once considered too expensive, as well as too damaging to the land, exploitation of Alberta’s oil sands is now a gamble worth billions

The Fracturing of Pennsylvania by Eliza Griswold - An investigation into fracking’s effects on rivers, streams, drinking water and human health

Jungle Law by William Langewiesche - A journalist journeys into the Amazon to find out how hundreds of square miles of surrounding rain forest became a toxic-waste dump

Dirty Coal, Clean Future by James Fallows - To environmentalists, “clean coal” is an insulting oxymoron. But for now, the only way to meet the world’s energy needs, and to arrest climate change before it produces irreversible cataclysm, is to use coal in more-sustainable ways

Thank you for your submission The Electric Typewriter! Do you also have an interesting climate post? Click here to submit to climateadaptation.tumblr.com!

China emits nearly 1 billion tonnes more CO2 a year than it discloses, report claims

According to an explosive report in The New York Times, China has been less than forthright on its own greenhouse gas emissions, and the margin of error is staggering. It’s estimated that China has been burning up to 17 percent more coal per year than officials have admitted to, and given the country’s massive size, the discrepancy is much more than a numerical oversight – it amounts to a huge pollution problem in its own right.

That’s more than all of Germany’s annual emissions.

 - ScienceAlert


For The First Time in Years, Greenhouse Gas Emissions Have Dropped

As the world scrambles to find ways to lower the impact of industrialization on the environment, researchers are now saying that there is evidence of greenhouse gas emissions going down this year. According to their paper, which was published in Nature Climate Change, this year’s emissions decreased by .6 percent versus last year’s statistics.

This is one of the first times that we have seen global numbers decrease over the course of an entire year.

Greenhouse gasses causes heat to get trapped in the atmosphere, aggravating climate change. The results are surprising because, when global economy is doing well, greenhouse emissions tend to go up due to the increase in industrialization. On the flipside, when the economy dips, emissions improve.

However, this year, despite the economy maintaining its strength, emissions declined, which can be credited to stricter implementation of regulations, stronger focus on renewable energy sources, and more efficient forms of transportation.

For a bit more background on climate change, watch “Why I Must Speak About Climate Change,” a TedTalk given by climate scientists James Hansen, & read more at: http://futurism.com/links/first-time-years-greenhouse-gas-emissions-dropped/

Methane Still Spewing in Southern California

It’s been 96 days since a methane leak sprung from a gas well’s ruptured pipe at Porter Ranch. The leak has generated as much greenhouse gas as driving a car more than 5 billion miles — the equivalent of driving around the Earth 200,866 times.

Invisible gas continues to seep into the air, but the Southern California Gas Co. says the damaged well won’t be plugged until late February or March.  

Compounding the severity of the spill is that fact that methane is one of the more harmful greenhouse gasses. NRDC’s Perrin Ireland illustrates why

Why the U.S. East Coast could be a major ‘hotspot’ for rising seas
Research increasingly shows that the consequences of climate change could be especially bad along the Atlantic seaboard.
By https://www.facebook.com/chriscmooney

The US East Coast is particularly vulnerable to sea level rise caused by climate change, according to a new study in Nature Geoscience. Strong warming off the Atlantic coast is already disrupting fisheries and causing economic damage, but could also increase the likelihood of extreme storms like Winter Storm Jonas. Atlantic sea levels rise considerably faster than Pacific, climate models in the study show. Global warming could also fundamentally change the mechanics of the Atlantic, slowing down ocean circulation and causing spikes in both water temperatures and sea level rise. Many East Coast cities are already vulnerable to sea level rise, and this nexus of unfavorable conditions will make it worse in the coming years if emissions levels continue to rise, spurred on by global warming.

Planetary level climate shift, effects on regional climates and landscapes, ecosystem damage and food growing capacity reductions, negative human health consequences from reduced air quality.

The impacts of GHG emissions are dispersed over spatial and temporal scales- and, furthermore/consequently, lack integration at a policy/decision making level. 

However, the source is, in many ways, the same.

Reducing/eliminating emissions will have positive effects and co-benefits from a local to global scale, immediately and in the future. 

Image source, and more at: SEI Initiative on Integrated Low Emissions Development Planning

The mayor making a show of preventing people from lung cancer from second hand smoke but not from the diesel trucks that drive around spraying proven cancer causing smog without any of the emissions standards that cars have. If we can ban smoking everywhere why not the diesel trucks that choke me daily with their thick billowing clouds of carcinogens they can blow down my throat with impunity! It’s as if any industry related to petroleum has immunity. Truck drivers that hit people too.

cnn.com-diesel-fumes-cause cancer

A microbe that lives in our guts can turn emissions into ethanol.

Most microbes live off sugar, but the oldest microbes on earth consume gases like carbon monoxide, methane, and hydrogen sulfide, which are emitted by the hydrothermal vents that these gas-fermenting microorganisms often call home—AND by steel plants. 

The steel industry produces carbon monoxide as a by-product, which is a big contributor to ground-level ozone. It usually gets rid of the gas by burning it, converting it to carbon dioxide (a big contributor to climate change). So innovators at the Chicago-based biotechnology firm LanzaTech have turned to a microbe from theClostridium genus for an ancient, natural technology to reduce a steel plant’s pollution. Found in sewage, soil, and marine sediments, as well as human and animal intestines, these bacteria feed on carbon monoxide and turn it into ethanol.

A pilot project is slated to start cranking out ethanol at the world’s largest steel manufacturer, ArcelorMittal, in Belgium later this year. The goal is to eventually produce 47,000 tons of this clean-burning fuel a year.

The answers are always in nature, aren’t they?