Can organic farming save the world from global warming?

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Feed the world, and cut greenhouse gases? It can be done, scientists say. Photo courtesy USDA.

China study shows benefits of switching to sustainable, organic agriculture

Staff Report

FRISCO — A large-scale shift to sustainable organic farming could dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions — and improve soil quality and crop resistance to pests at the same time, according to a new study from China.

Since about a third of all global greenhouse gas emissions are produced by agriculture, scientists have been taking a close look at how to manage the production of food in a way that reduces the global warming footprint. With best practices in place, agriculture could become a net carbon sink instead of a source of heat-trapping pollution, some scientists assert. Continue reading

Report says tackling methane leakage from oil and gas operations critical to meeting global greenhouse gas goals

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Tracking methane.

Global methane leaks totaled 3.5 trillion cubic feet in 2012

Staff Report

*More Summit Voice stories on methane

FRISCO — Reducing methane leakage from drilling sites, pipelines and storage tanks represents a huge low-cost opportunity in the battle to cut greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report that says 3.5 trillion cubic feet of gas — worth about $30 billion — escaped from oil and gas sector operations in 2012.

The majority of oil and gas methane leakage comes from a handful of countries, with the top seven emitting countries responsible for over half of the global total in 2012. Despite the huge scale of the methane loss, very few have taken steps to regulate leakage from the oil and gas sector, or set specific goals to reduce emissions in the future. But the benefits of doing so would be considerable, according to the report.
Continue reading

Carbon release from melting permafrost may gradual

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The average temperature of permafrost has increased by 11 degrees Fahrenheit in 30 years.

New study takes detailed look at dynamics of permafrost meltdown

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — One of the big uncertainties in the pace of global warming is how fast greenhouse gases will be released from thawing permafrost, which stores huge amounts of carbon.

A sudden meltdown and discharge could result in a spike in the concentration of heat-trapping gases and big surge in global temperatures, but a new study suggests that release of greenhouse gases from permafrost soils in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions will be more gradual and prolonged. Continue reading

Colorado GOP launches preemptive strike on EPA’s Clean Power Plan

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Clean Power Plan under attack in Colorado.

Proposed bill up for a committee hearing today

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Backed by the fossil fuel industry, Republican Colorado lawmakers are launching a preemptive effort to block or delay the state from implementing the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, aimed at reducing emissions from power plants. The plan has not been finalized yet, but that apparently won’t stop the misguided effort in the Colorado Senate.

Senate Bill 15-258, misnamed as the “Colorado Electric Consumer’s Protection Act.” would require the state to undertake burdensome and costly reviews of any Clean Power Plan rules adopted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Air Quality Control Division — including a full evidentiary hearing before the Public Utilities Commission to evaluate impacts to electricity rates. Continue reading

Coal mining in a roadless area? Forest Service says, ‘Why not?’

Wetlands in the Sunset Roadless area. Photo courtesy Earthjustice.

Wetlands in the Sunset Roadless area. Photo courtesy Earthjustice.

State, feds to spend a ton of money for a new study and to fight subsequent lawsuits just to pump more Co2 and methane into the air

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — State and federal officials appear determined to let bulldozers punch into the rolling aspen forests of the Sunset Roadless Area southeast of Paonia.

The Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service this week announced they’ll try to reinstate a contested Colorado exemption to a 2001 national roadless rule that virtually ended all logging, roadbuilding, and coal, gas, oil, and other mineral leasing about 50 million acres across the country, including 4 million acres in Colorado.

Under unique Colorado provisions in a state version of the rule, a patch of the Sunset Roadless area was designated as a mining zone, authorizing temporary construction of roads to support future coal mining in the area, mainly by enabling construction of methane vents. Conservation advocates have been challenging those exemptions ever since. Continue reading

Environment: Methane emissions from pipelines declining

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Concentrations of heat-trapping methane are increasing Earth’s atmosphere.

Better materials and new regs drive drop in natural gas leakage

Staff Report

FRISCO — Despite recent findings of massive natural gas leakage from Boston’s distribution system, researchers say that, overall, methane emissions from cities and towns throughout the U.S. have decreased in the past 20 years — with significant variation by region.

Altogether, natural gas leaks from pipelines and other facilities add up to the equivalent of emissions from about 7 million cars, a significant amount, but lower than EPA estimates. Continue reading

Environment: Denver squeaks into top-10 list of cities with most energy efficient buildings

Energy efficient buildings save money

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A view of Denver from the International Space Station.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Making buildings more energy efficient may not be as sexy as putting up new wind turbines or a fancy new solar power facility, but it’s low-hanging fruit if the goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy use in commercial buildings accounts for 17 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at a cost of more than $100 billion per year, and simple changes like switching to compact fluorescent bulbs on a large scale can save vast amounts of energy and money. Designing buildings to be green from the ground up has even more potential to help in the fight against climate change. Continue reading

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