Friday, June 26, 2009

Use 'synthetic trees' to capture carbon?

Above is an artists impression of a possible new high-tech method to capture carbon emissions. Professor Klaus Lackner suggests a 'synthethic tree' as a way of capturing carbon emissions from the air. [Plus, it looks like it could also be used as a bus shelter]. Should we be investing in 'synthetic tree' development? What do people think about this idea? It seems to be a very technocratic solution to climate change. Interesing idea. It sounds like the US Department of Energy may also be 'interested' in the idea.

Here is some more on the idea.

As the wind blows though plastic "leaves," the carbon is trapped in a chamber, compressed and stored as liquid carbon dioxide. The technology is similar to that used to capture carbon from flue stacks at coal-fired power plants, but the difference is that the "synthetic tree" can catch carbon anytime, anywhere.

"Half of your emissions come from small, distributed sources where collection at the site is either impossible or impractical," said Professor Klaus Lackner, Ewing-Worzel Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering at Columbia University.

Lackner started working on the concept of an ambient carbon catcher in 1998.

"I argued back then and I still argue that the reason this can be done, from a theoretical point of view, is that the CO2 in the air is actually surprisingly concentrated, therefore the device you need to collect CO2 is quite small."

"If you give me one of those big windmills which have those big areas through which the rotor moves -- how much CO2 can I avoid? And if I had an equally sized CO2 collector -- how much CO2 can I collect? It turns out the collector is several hundred times better than the windmill."


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So please, tell us what you think.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


The United Nations has teamed up with some of the leading advertising, marketing and media agencies to create a campaign to increase awareness of the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Change Conference (COP15) in December later this year.

Hopenhagen aims:

"to help empower global citizens to engage in the UN Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen".

The idea of 'hope' (as used by Obama) is obviously the key idea used to try and engage with people on this issue.

The website is

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please, tell us what you think.

Friday, June 19, 2009

UK Climate Projections 2009 (UKCP09)

Video: Dr Vicky Pope, Head of Climate Change Advice at the Met Office, talks about the new UK Climate Projections 2009 (UKCP09).

Here is some new information on UK climate projections from the Met Office Hadley Centre. So if you live in the UK, this is worth checking out! The website has many resources on climate change available to use free of charge. Isn't that nice!

The UK Climate Projections 2009 (UKCP09) confirm that the UK is likely to see hotter, drier summers and warmer, wetter winters coupled with more frequent extreme weather such as flooding, heatwaves and droughts.

UKCP09 is the latest cutting edge science developed by the Met Office Hadley Centre and is the first time that a probabilistic approach has been used for climate projections, allowing us to take a risk-based approach to planning for the future.

Met Office Chief Scientist, Julia Slingo, said: “Through UKCP09 the Met Office has provided the world’s most comprehensive regional climate projections with a unique assessment of the possible changes to our climate through the rest of this century. For the first time businesses and authorities have the tools to help them make risk-based decisions to adapt to the challenges of our changing climate.”

For more information about UKCP09 see here.

You can read more detailed key findings for different parts of the UK, or look at UKCP09 maps of the UK showing how the climate could change in the future, and how this information should be interpreted.

** If you enjoyed this post please also check out:

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So please, tell us what you think.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States

Here is the blurb from the long awaited new report called "Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States".

The report summarizes the science and the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future. It focuses on climate change impacts in different regions of the U.S. and on various aspects of society and the economy such as energy, water, agriculture, and health. It’s also a report written in plain language, with the goal of better informing public and private decision making at all levels.

In addition to discussing the impacts of climate change in the U.S., the report also highlights the choices we face in response to human-induced climate change. It is clear that impacts in the United States are already occurring and are projected to increase in the future, particularly if the concentration of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continues to rise. So, choices about how we manage greenhouse gas emissions will have far-reaching consequences for climate change impacts. Similarly, there are choices to be made about adaptation strategies than can help to reduce or avoid some of the undesirable impacts of climate change. This report provides many of the scientific underpinnings for effective decisions to be made – at the national and at the regional level.

The key findings were:

1. Global warming is unequivocal and primarily human-induced.

2. Climate changes are underway in the United States and are projected to grow.

3. Widespread climate-related impacts are occurring now and are expected to increase.

4. Climate change will stress water resources.

5. Crop and livestock production will be increasingly challenged.

6. Coastal areas are at increasing risk from sea-level rise and storm surge.

7. Threats to human health will increase.

8. Climate change will interact with many social and environmental stresses.

9. Thresholds will be crossed, leading to large changes in climate and ecosystems.

10. Future climate change and its impacts depend on choices made today.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Allan Schnaiberg

Photo taken by: Alan Thomas

It is with much sadness, that I must announce that the 'village elder' of Bluesky-Greenwater - Allan Schnaiberg - has passed away in Chicago. Allan was my friend and a wonderful spirit. His energy and passion for the environment and people was fantastic. I am deeply upset at his passing and will keep his ideas and his spirit close to my heart forever. He was a special man that was always willing to share his wisdom and help me understand more about the social world.

Thank you Allan for being my friend and for all your help and inspiration.

I will really miss you!

Allan wrote (back in 1980) the best book I have read on the environment called:

The Environment: From Surplus to Scarcity

In particular, it has an excellent chapter on population (Chapter 2) called "Paradoxes of the Hydra Monster". It is well worth a read!!! Allan was one of the 'elders' of environmental sociology and suggested the societal-environmental dialectic, back in 1975. He is also well known for his 'treadmill of production' ideas and wrote many other papers and books (see here).

Also worth reading, is his paper called "Reflections on My 25 Years Before the Mast of the Environmental and Technology Section", as it contains a great personal summary of his academic life (including background on how the theory of the treadmill of production came about). Anyway, I will leave you with some of what he wrote to me recently:

Thanks for staying in touch at a human level -- far more important that just a "professional" level. I suppose the paradox is that "human warmth" may be the best antidote to "global warming"...

See you, mate,


UPDATE: Very touching to see the Allan Schnaiberg memorial website and to read all the comments about Allan.

Photo taken by: Alan Thomas