Climate: Aviation industry eyes CO2 emissions standard

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Greenhouse gas emissions from aviation are a huge factor in the global climate change puzzle. @bberwyn photo.

Watchdogs say global carbon-trading system for airlines is needed to cap emissions

Staff Report

After years of foot-dragging, the aviation industry is close to adopting a CO2 emissions standard for aircraft, which will require aircraft builders to start producing more fuel efficient planes.

A group of technical experts with the International Civil Aviation Organization agreed on the proposed standard this week; the organization is expected to adopt the standard at an annual meeting this spring. The industry will also start to consider an overall cap on emissions at 2020 levels. The ICAO could take a vote on such a cap, as well as a carbon-trading program, later this year. Continue reading

Will the U.S. Supreme Court block the Clean Power Plan?

Fossil fuel dinosaurs make last-ditch effort to keep polluting the nation’s air with dangerous greenhouse gases

Mercury from the Craig Station power plant in northwest Colorado pollutes lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Mercury from the Craig Station power plant in northwest Colorado pollutes lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park.

By Bob Berwyn

Texas, West Virginia, Colorado and 26 other states are going to the U.S. Supreme Court with a last-ditch effort to slow the Obama administration’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.

The states want the court to block implementation of the EPA Clean Power Plan, which they describe as “the most far reaching and burdensome rule EPA has ever forced onto the States.”

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected the same request, leading to the appeal to the Supreme Court. The states say the plan will require a massive shift away from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy, and claim the changes will cost jobs and money. Continue reading

Study says there’s little chance recent record global temps are due to natural variability

‘Natural climate variations just can’t explain the observed recent global heat records, but man-made global warming can …’

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Record-warm global temperatures are not due to natural variability.

Staff Report

It’s no accident that 13 out of the 15 warmest years on record have all occurred during the current century, according to climate researchers, who said there’s an “extreme likelihood” that the recent spate of warmth is caused by human-made climate change. Continue reading

Study says human-caused global warming has interrupted Earth’s ice age cycles

The Dachstein Glacier in Austria has visibly and dramatically decreased in size in just a couple of decades. bberwyn photo.

The Dachstein Glacier in Austria has visibly and dramatically decreased in size in just a couple of decades. bberwyn photo.

Humans have triggered an era of ‘de-glaciation’

Staff Report

The build-up of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere could delay onset of Earth’s next ice age by 100,000 years, scientists estimate in a new study published this week in Nature.

The researchers reached their findings after “cracking the code of glacial inception,” according to a statement from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who said the relationship between incoming solar radiation and CO2 levels are the key factors that explain the last eight glacial cycles in Earth history. Continue reading

Study tracks methane emission from streams

Snake River, Summit County Colorado

Freshwater streams disturbed by human activity are significant sources of heat-trapping methane pollution. @bberwyn photo.

Protecting water quality has climate benefits

Staff Report

Climate models may be significantly underestimating the amount of greenhouse gases produced by fresh water streams, researchers said in a new study released this week.

Published in the journal Ecological Monographs, the findings suggest that human disturbances on watersheds are a key factor in raising concentrations of methane, a particularly potent heat-trapping pollutant. Based on the research, the world’s rivers and streams pump about 10 times more methane into our atmosphere than previously estimated. Continue reading

USGS study projects Alaska permafrost losses

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A new USGS study projects a significant permafrost meltdown in Alaska by 2100.

Near-surface permafrost areas could shrink by 16-24 percent

Staff Report

Global warming is likely to take a big bite out of Alaska’s permafrost the next few decades, U.S. Geological Survey researchers said after analyzing new satellite data.

The maps suggest that the near-surface permafrost that presently underlies 38 percent of boreal and arctic Alaska would be reduced by 16 to 24 percent by the end of the 21st century under widely accepted climate scenarios. Permafrost declines are more likely in central Alaska than northern Alaska. Continue reading

Forest Service sets public meetings for North Fork coal mining plans

Plan could unleash 36.6 billion tons of greenhouse gases

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A federal judge ordered the U.S. Forest Service to disclose greenhouse gas emissions from a proposed coal mining project in Colorado.

Staff Report

The public will have a chance to weigh in on a U.S. Forest Service proposal to expand coal-mining on public lands in south-central Colorado at two public hearings, Dec. 7 in Paonia and Dec. 9 in Denver.

At issue is a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Colorado Roadless Rule released November 20. The study addresses a recent court ruling that blocked the coal mining expansion in the North Fork Valley, near Paonia, pending more analysis and disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions associated extracting and burning the coal. Continue reading

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