Global warming: Court says California planners must consider climate impacts of emissions from the transportation sector

Colorado travelers can expect some lane closures along I-70 the next few weeks as CDOT repairs the road surface.

Effectively reducing greenhouse gas emissions on a global level means tackling transportation, which accounts for more than 25 percent of all CO2 emissions in the U.S. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO —Planners and elected officials may not be able to ignore the climate impacts of transportation for much longer. A California appeals court last week ruled against the San Diego Association of Governments in a lawsuit centered on a freeway oriented plan that fails to assess climate and public health risks of a transportation plan that invests heavily in freeways and subsidizes sprawl at the expense of public transit.

The transportation sector is the second biggest source of greenhouse gases (28 percent, just behind power generation (32 percent). he majority of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation are CO2 emissions resulting from the combustion of petroleum-based products, like gasoline, in internal combustion engines.

According to the EPA, the largest sources of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions include passenger cars and light-duty trucks, including sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks, and minivans. These sources account for over half of the emissions from the sector. The remainder of greenhouse gas emissions comes from other modes of transportation, including freight trucks, commercial aircraft, ships, boats, and trains as well as pipelines and lubricants. Continue reading

Report: No gains in U.S. airline fuel efficiency

Industry foot-dragging continues,; lawsuits pending

An Iceland Air jet flies over Greenland en route from Reykjavik to Denver. bberwyn photo.

An Iceland Air jet flies over Greenland en route from Reykjavik to Denver. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — U.S. airlines aren’t making much progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report from the International Council on Clean Transportation. Despite some improvement by individual airlines, the analysis showed there was  no net improvement in the fuel efficiency of U.S. domestic operations from 2012 to 2013.

The nonprofit organization also calculated that two of the most fuel efficient carriers  — Alaska and Spirit — had the highest operating profit margins in 2013. Meanwhile less-efficient carriers like Allegiant made profits while using old, polluting and less efficient aircraft. The study findings contradict airline industry arguments that fuel costs automatically push airlines to maximize efficiency. Continue reading

Tracking ancient greenhouse gas pulses shows climate trouble ahead

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Massive permafrost meltdown could lead to runaway warming.

Carbon cycle subject to major changes as permafrost melts

Staff Report

FRISCO — There’s yet more evidence that melting Arctic permafrost will amplify global warming by releasing huge amounts of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

In the latest study, Scientists with the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research tracked a pulse of CO2 and other greenhouse gases released to the atmosphere about 14,600 years ago. Continue reading

Psst! Wanna see some carbon dioxide?

New NASA visual helps trace path of greenhouse gases

Staff Report

FRISCO — In a way, addressing global warming is like fighting a ghost. How do you tackle odorless and colorless heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide and methane?

NASA, the government agency that literally has the best global perspective on climate change, has just released a new computer generated animation that help show the source of greenhouse gases and how they disperse around the planet. Continue reading

New maps detail ocean acidification patterns

n northern winter, the Bering Sea, dividing Alaska and Siberia, becomes the most acidic region on earth (in purple) as shown in this February 2005 acidity map in pH scale. Temperate oceans are less acidic. The equatorial Pacific is left blank due to its high variability around El Niño and La Niña events. (Takahashi

During the northern hemisphere winter, the Bering Sea, dividing Alaska and Siberia, becomes the most acidic region on earth (in purple) as shown in this February 2005 acidity map in pH scale. Temperate oceans are less acidic. The equatorial Pacific is left blank due to its high variability around El Niño and La Niña events. Map courtesy Taro Takahashi.

New benchmark data will help track future changes

Staff Report

FRISCO — The world’s oceans are acidifying at a rate of about 5 percent each decade, a trend that could cost the global economy $3 trillion a year in lost revenue from fishing, tourism and other intangible lost ecosystem services.

At that pace, warm-water corals by the end of the century could be living in waters 25 percent more acidic than they are today, raising questions about the long-term survival of coral reef ecosystems.

To paint a more detailed picture of potential impacts, scientists have created an ocean acidification map, showing how how acidity levels vary across the world’s oceans. The data should help provide a benchmark for the future, as enormous amounts CO2 from fossil fuels ends up in the sea. Continue reading

Election intensifies political global warming showdown

Enviro groups gear up for major fight

FRISCO — Climate activists and environmental groups came out with both guns blazing in reaction to the 2014 election, vowing to confront what they describe as the new radically anti-environmental political landscape in Congress.

Of major concern is that one of the Senate’s most vocal anti-science members — Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe — will chair the key environment committee. Inhofe is on record as totally rejecting the idea that the atmopsheric carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere is affecting global climate.

The Keystone XL Pipeline is also still on the table, and people on both sides of the issue are busy counting votes in the Senate to see if new fossil-fuel backed leadership can push through approval of the controversial project that would transport tar sands crude oil from Canada into the U.S. heartland.

https://twitter.com/350/status/530101938554425344 Continue reading

Climate: New ice core record shows three distinct CO2 pulses about 10,000 years ago, as ice age ended

‘The natural carbon cycle can change a lot faster than we thought’

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How will Earth’s climate respond to the current rise in CO2?

Staff Report

FRISCO — One of the most detailed ice cores samples ever taken from Antarctica shows three sharp spikes of atmospheric carbon dioxide ushering in the end of the ice age about 10,000 years ago.

Based on the findings, the researchers said that the increase in atmospheric CO2 from the peak of the last ice age to complete deglaciation was about 80 parts per million, taking place over 10,000 years, with about half that increase occurring in just a few centuries.

They’re not sure what caused the sudden surges, but suspect it was a combination of factors, including ocean circulation, changing wind patterns, and terrestrial processes. But understanding the mechanisms that caused the changes would help determine what take the Earth in and out of ice age regimes. Continue reading

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