Tag Archives: planet

Good news – United States greenhouse gas emissions are declining (graph)

I hate the doom-and-gloom focus of global warming. For an issue that asks people to make big changes, there couldn’t be a worse message. And so I’m proud to present another piece good news:

  • As our economy grows we are lowering our emissions (blue lines)
  • As our population our emissions are remaining steady or decreasing (orange lines)

 

source: EPA

 

This makes it look like we are cleaning up our economy and our habits, and we are. Good news.

And, one piece of bad news. The declines aren’t strong enough to stop climate change. For that we need a much steeper decline. So keep up the great work and double your efforts!

Here are some ways to do so:

Forget about renewables, we are entering the gas age

Andrew Revkin from Dot Earth explores whether China will soon switch to natural gas and the answer appears to be, yes.

Reports showed that China — which was once considered gas poor — now has estimated volumes greater than those of the United States (which are, as you know, enormous).

 

With the two greatest economies on Earth (U.S., China) embracing natural gas (and Russia supplying Europe with substantial amounts), we appear to be entering a new “gas age”.

Again from Revkin’s article:

The gas revolution isn’t all roses.  People have legitimate worries about the environmental impacts of fracking—notably on air and water.  There are also some worrying signs that fracking operations might emit lots of greenhouse gases—which, if true, would negate much (perhaps all) of the climate change benefits from a shift to gas.  My read of that literature is that those fears have been overblown and new estimates based on serious measurement will be more reassuring.

 

Only time will tell how this new ‘gas age’ affects the planet.

 

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Where do America’s biggest banks make their money?

Most people know the traditional banking model, if only from George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life.

In simplified form: A bank takes deposits from savers, and pays them a low interest rate. Then it lends that money out to borrowers at a higher interest rate. The bank’s profits come from the difference between the rates.

 

Charming…but far from the truth for the modern bank. An article from NPR’s Planet Money looked into JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in America, and found they do much more than that.

The two most important ‘extra’ activities are charging fees and the outright investing of their own money. Here is how it breaks down:

  • $48 billion – interest from loans
  • $35 billion – fees
  • $11.5 billion – trading

A little less than half of the bank’s revenue comes from non-traditional banking activities (fees, trading). Not so bad, especially with trading accounting for so little. Remember, one of the root causes of the financial crisis was all the big banks exploding their trading. When the market collapsed so did they, but were “too big to fail” and we had to bail them out.

Suffice it to say that banking with deposits and loans is very hard (George Bailey nearly went under), add in too much trading and banks become very unstable.

 

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NASA releases a full 360-degree panorama of Mars surface – feels like you’re there

NASA has released an amazing panorama shot of Mars:

 

This full-circle scene combines 817 images taken by the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. It shows the terrain that surrounded the rover while it was stationary for four months of work during its most recent Martian winter.

Its release this week coincides with two milestones: Opportunity completing its 3,000th Martian day on July 2, and NASA continuing past 15 years of robotic presence at Mars.

 

And, Panoramas.dk has turned it into a it’s-like-you’re-there 360-degree view. Make sure to visit Panorama.dk, the shot will make you feel like you are on the surface of Mars.

 

A screenshot of 90-degrees of the panorama:

 

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The best video NASA has ever produced – ’7 minutes of terror’ – landing a robot on Mars

 

On Aug. 5 or Aug. 6, depending on which part of the country you’re in, the Curiosity spacecraft careening toward Mars will hit the Red Planet’s atmosphere, deploy a supersonic parachute and either land safely on the planet’s surface or perish. It’s dramatic stuff, and NASA has produced this Hollywood-style YouTube video, complete with animation and suspenseful music, to preview the landing, evoke that drama and put viewers on the edge of their seats.

As engineers explain, it will take seven minutes for Curiosity to travel from the edge of Mars’ atmosphere to the surface, going from a speed of 13,000 mph to zero. “If any one thing doesn’t work just right, it’s game over,” engineer Tom Rivellini says.

Because Mars is so far away, it actually takes 14 minutes for the spacecraft’s signal to reach Earth. So by the time we learn the spacecraft has hit the top of Mars’ atmosphere, Curiosity will have either have survived the landing or perished for a full seven minutes.

 

Source: Skye - 7 Minutes of Terror: NASA’s Dramatic Mars-Landing Preview

Salted Magazine – a new all-female surfing magazine from the editors of Surfer

The time has come. We’re finally giving female surfers the love they deserve in a brand-new, all-girls magazine, SALTED. The mag, created by the editors of SURFER Magazine, features the best female surfers on the planet, trips to the most idyllic locales, profiles, interviews, history, fashion features, and more. It’s is a much-overdue homage to women’s surfing, all made with the quality, authenticity, and top-notch imagery you’ve come to expect from SURFER.

Hitting newsstands August 14, SALTED is nearly 100 pages of uninterrupted female surf content in an oversized, glossy format. Find it at your local surf shop or bookstore. The digital version will also be available on the Apple Newsstand beginning August 6.

 

Source: Surfer – Introducing Salted Magazine

Frankie Harrer, one of the many surfers featured in the debut issue of Salted. (Morgan Maassen)

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How zero waste, local food, and sustainable transport are a part of the London 2012 Olympics

Pulled from the London 2012 Olympics Sustainability report (pdf):

 

If everyone lived as we do in the UK we would need three planets.

Our unsustainable lifestyles have meant that for the last 30 years we have been ‘eating into the Earth’s capital’ rather than ‘living off its interest’.

The promotion of sustainable development has become one of the fundamental objectives of the Olympic Movement…through its Agenda 21– Sport for Sustainable Development.

London 2012, WWF and BioRegional have developed the concept of a One Planet Olympics.

Staging a One Planet Olympics in London would help achieve the first sustainable Games. Sustainability has been at the heart of the London 2012 Bid and Masterplan.

 

The principles, goals, and legacy of the One Planet Olympics:

 

Zero Waste

Developing closed resource loops. Reducing the amounts of waste produced, then reclaiming, recycling and recovering

Goals

  • No Games waste direct to landfill – all treated as a resource
  • Zero waste target a pivotal procurement driver
  • Closed-loop waste management at all venues
  • Public information campaign to promote high quality front-of-house waste separation

Legacy

  • Zero waste policies extend across East London based on high recycling rates and residual waste converted to compost and renewable energy
  • Increased market for recycled products
  • Closed-loop waste management to be standard practice for major sports events

 

Local and Sustainable Food

Supporting consumption of local, seasonal and organic produce, with reduced amount of animal protein and packaging

Goals

  • Promotion of local, seasonal, healthy and organic produce
  • Promotion of links between healthy eating, sport and wellbeing
  • Partnerships established with key caterers, suppliers and sponsors
  • Composting of food waste as part of Zero Waste plan

Legacy

  • Increased markets for farmers in the region
  • Markets, catering and retail outlets supplying local and seasonal food
  • Composting facilities integrated into closed-loop food strategy

 

Sustainable Transport

Reducing the need to travel and providing sustainable alternatives to private car use

Goals

  • All spectators travelling by public transport, walking or cycling to venues
  • Low/no emission Olympic vehicle fleet
  • Olympic Park Low Emission Zone
  • Carbon offset programme for international travel
  • Individualised travel plans as part of integrated ticketing process

Legacy

  • Increased connectivity across and between legacy developments and neighbouring communities
  • Reduced car dependency
  • Car free events policy adopted for other major events
  • Greater market for zero carbon transport

 

 

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World scientists – we can’t raise the temperature by more than two degrees Celsius

The official position of planet Earth at the moment is that we can’t raise the temperature more than two degrees Celsius.

Some context: So far, we’ve raised the average temperature of the planet just under 0.8 degrees Celsius, and that has caused far more damage than most scientists expected. (A third of summer sea ice in the Arctic is gone, the oceans are 30 percent more acidic, and since warm air holds more water vapor than cold, the atmosphere over the oceans is a shocking five percent wetter, loading the dice for devastating floods.)

Scientists estimate that humans can pour roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by midcentury and still have some reasonable hope of staying below two degrees.

We’re not getting any free lunch from the world’s economies, either. With only a single year’s lull in 2009 at the height of the financial crisis, we’ve continued to pour record amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, year after year. In late May, the International Energy Agency published its latest figures – CO2 emissions last year rose to 31.6 gigatons, up 3.2 percent from the year before.

  • America had a warm winter and converted more coal-fired power plants to natural gas, so its emissions fell slightly
  • China kept booming, so its carbon output (which recently surpassed the U.S.) rose 9.3 percent
  • Japanese shut down their fleet of nukes post-Fukushima, so their emissions edged up 2.4 percent.

 

Keep reading: Rolling Stone - Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math

 

 

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Astronomers discover a close new planet – covered in oceans of magma

In a surprise find, astronomers have discovered a planet possibly covered with oceans of magma “right around the corner.”

Thirty-three light years away, “we have a sub-Earth-sized planet that’s slightly larger than Mars and essentially right around the corner, at least on a cosmic scale,” said Kevin Stevenson, a planetary scientist now at the University of Chicago

UCF-1.01 is about 5,200 miles (8,400 kilometers) wide, making about a quarter the volume of Earth. And with a year that lasts only 1.4 Earth days, the new planet’s orbit takes UCF-1.01 searingly close to its star.

“It could be a thousand degrees Fahrenheit [540 degrees Celsius]. That may be hot enough to make an ocean of molten rock.”

Researchers using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope essentially stumbled upon the new planet while studying a hot, Neptune-size planet called GJ 436b.

 

Learn more: National Geographic - New Planet Found: Molten “Mars” Is “Right Around the Corner”

 

 

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