carbon dioxide

InvestigateWest photographer again arrested at United Nations climate talks

COPENHAGEN -- For the second time in a week, an InvestigateWest photographer trying to cover protests against the United Nations climate treaty negotiations here has been arrested.

Christopher Crow was taken into custody along with a number of protesters attempting to get inside the Bella Center, where the international summit is being held, InvestigateWest correspondent Alexander Kelly reports.

Kelly will have a more detailed dispatch forthcoming.

Crow was also arrested on Sunday while covering demonstrators who were on their way to shut down Copenhagen harbor in protest of the "cap  and trade" policies international negotiators are haggling over.

Those policies, critics say, are misguided because they allow corporations to buy and sell the right to emit planet-warming gases such as carbon dioxide.  Proponents of the system point to the way it has helped ratchet down sulfur dioxide levels in the United States, lessening the impact of acid rain.

-- Robert McClure

Rita Hibbard's picture

Seattle meets greenhouse gas goals two years ahead of schedule

The population of Seattle rose 16 percent since 1990, but the city's overall energy consumption climbed only slightly. Amazingly, greenhouse gas production is down 7 percent.

rita_hibbardwebThat’s a goal the city is meeting two years earlier than it had hoped, admittedly aided by a declining economy that took vehicles off the street and pushed down energy consumption, but also a sign of steps the city has taken, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels says. Read the city's report here.

Reporting on the Nickel’s determined drive to push the city meet the international Kyoto Protocol capping carbon dioxide and other gases after the Bush administration backed off, Seattle Times reporter Craig Welch writes of challenges to come. The biggest issue remaining will be driving, with emissions from road vehicles rising 5.5 percent in the past three years. Most of the growth in emissions came from commercial truck traffic. Still, the city sees reasons for optimism.

"The encouraging news is that on a per-capita basis it [transportation] is going in the other direction," said Jill Simmons, senior climate-policy adviser for the city. City officials also said recent efforts to boost transit, build walkable neighborhoods, make parking more expensive and add bike lanes will help get more people out of their cars in coming years.

The city is measuring its greenhouse gas emissions every three years in three categories -- homes, commercial buildings and heavy industry.

Superfreakonomics, Schmuperfreakonomics. Solving climate change just ain't that easy.

An economics professor who went on the Jon Stewart Show to flog his book Superfreakonomics the other night has been taking a flogging in the blogosphere. Reason: The book points out ways to fight climate change without reducing consumption of carbon-based fuels. The favorite idea of economist-author Steven Levitt: Pump sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, which has a shading effect (and mimics what happens when a big volcano blows.)

Now, I was an economics minor. I'm open to solutions that make sense, harness markets and save money. This isn't one of them. I'm here today to tell you a bit about why, but also to argue that we are going to need to find technological solutions to global warming, and they might not all be pretty.

[caption id="attachment_5869" align="alignright" width="133" caption="University of Calgary researcher David Keith with his machine, which he says pulls carbon dioxide from the air. Why is he getting so little attention compared to the Superfreakonomics authors? Ken Benditksen photo, courtesy University of Calgary"]University of Calgary researcher David Keith with his machine, which he says pulls carbon dioxide from the air. Why is he getting so little attention compared to the Superfreakonomics authors? Ken Benditksen photo, courtesy University of Calgary[/caption]

Recall that back in economics class, when the professor described an effect, it would only be after first giving the caveat that we were holding constant all the other variables.

Capture carbon dioxide? WSJ shows two sides

Ah, travel. Here I sit in Madison, Wisconsin, ready for the beginning of the Society of Environmental Journalists conference -- sans luggage.

But at least I got to really dig into The Wall Street Journal on my way here. Even in its new incarnation under Murdoch, the WSJ never fails to deliver a few items I just didn't see anywhere else:

* The International Energy Agency is calling for $10 trillion in research into renewable energy and technologies to capture and control carbon dioxide, the most abundant of the greenhouse gases, over the next 20 years.  That's 37 percent more than what the agency called for just a year ago. The recommended $500 billion-a-year pace compares to about $100 billion annually now, Spencer Swartz and Selina Williams report.

* We were surprised to learn recently that geothermal energy causes earthquakes. But we hadn't heard about the grassroots movement in Germany to stop carbon capture and storage -- the holy grail of climate research, to hear some tell it -- because some Germans are afraid of being suffocated. Apparently hundreds have died in the past when natural deposits of CO2 were suddenly unleashed. Naturally released, that it. Guy Chazan has an interesting look at the German protesters.

And now, off to my class on shooting news video.

Rugged individualist Alaskans get ready to suckle on their annual government handout

Today comes word of how much money, exactly, almost every man, woman and child living in Alaska will collect from the government next month.

Now, obviously one has to be just a bit different from most other Americans to go live in The Last Frontier State. And you have to give them credit for struggling through long, dark winters without (most of them) going stark raving mad.

But this annual announcement -- this year's check from the Alaska Permanent Fund will be $1,305 -- shows up a bit of a contradiction in Alaskans' political leanings.

To paint with perhaps an overly broad brush, Alaskans are known for being conservative, I-can-do-without-government types. Even former Gov. Tony Knowles, a Democrat, and current U.S. Sen. Mark  Begich, also a D, can hardly be classified as lefties, while their Rs -- Rep. Don Young and Sen. Lisa Murkokowski, as well as just-departed U.S. Sen Ted Stevens -- are longtime conservative stalwarts. (Sarah Palin, on the other hand, did at least talk a good game about keeping the oil companies in line. Before she wigged out ... uh, I mean retired.)

[caption id="attachment_4318" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Lisa Murkowski"]Lisa Murkowski[/caption]

But this annual check from the gummint? Isn't that welfare? Doesn't that make Alaska a welfare state? The money comes from the oil flowing off the North Slope. One-quarter of all lease revenues going to the state are diverted into the Permanent Fund, which invests the money and makes payouts in according with a rolling five-year average of how the investments are doing.

One thing those checks do is help cement Alaska's political leadership behind the oil industry.

Arctic ice cores buttress already-strong case for industrial global warming

It's beginning to feel a bit like piling on to highlight the latest scientific study reinforcing the notion that byproducts of the industrialization are causing our atmosphere to warm unnaturally.

But today's news is noteworthy in that a) it comes from the National Science Foundation, not exactly a loony left-wing tree-hugging group, if you know what we mean, and b) is able to use glacial ice cores, tree rings and sediments from lakes, along with computer simulations, to look back at the Arctic's past climate, down to a decade-by-decade scale, going back 2,000 years. Previously, a climate simulation this fine-grained only went back about 400 years.

[caption id="attachment_3515" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Scientists take sediment core in Alaska. Photo courtesy Darrell Kaufman, Arizona State University"]Scientists take sediment core in Alaska. Photo courtesy Darrell Kaufman, Arizona State University[/caption]

Now, Dateline Earthers were reporting as early as 2003 on how global warming already was affecting the Pacific Northwest. But there are still today those who want to discount the notion that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are playing a role in enhancing the greenhouse effect.

The NSF study, though, traces temperatures in the Arctic, showing temps there had actually been growing steadily colder for 19 centuries until the last century -- and why they should have kept getting colder, but for greenhouse gases emitted by modern machinery, farming methods, yadda yadda.

You see, the earth's rotation around the sun is not a perfectly spherical thing.

Global warming? Ha -- throw another lump of coal on the barbie, Australians say

Americans make up 5 percent of the world's population, and with that we manage to crank out 25 percent of the greenhouse gases that have us hurtling toward climate catastrophe.

[caption id="attachment_2708" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Gnu free documentation license"]Gnu free documentation license[/caption]

 

So, we're the worst offenders, you'd think. But no. That would be Australia, where the per capita greenhouse gas production rates are even higher than here in the U-S of A.

Writing for The Wall Street Journal from Canberra, Rachel Pannett offers an interesting look at what she bills as a possible preview of what's to happen here on the Waxman-Markey Cap'n Trade bill.

The report from Down Under definitely inspires a sense of deja vu:

Like the U.S.