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Posts Tagged ‘Carbon Dioxide’

Carbon Dioxide Drop And Global Cooling Caused Antarctic Glacier To Form

Projection of the what the first Antarctic ice sheet might have looked like as the global climate cooled about 33.5 million years ago. Antarctica is in gray, with the ice sheet shown in meters of ice thickness. The ice sheet is continental in scale, but somewhat smaller than today. The estimate is based on prior modeling work of DeConto and Pollard and is supported by this new data study. (Credit: DeConto & Pollard / Nature)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Feb. 27, 2009) — Global climate rapidly shifted from a relatively ice-free world to one with massive ice sheets on Antarctica about 34 million years ago. What happened? What changed? A team of scientists led by Yale geologists offers a new perspective on the nature of changing climatic conditions across this greenhouse-to-icehouse transition — one that refutes earlier theories and has important implications for predicting future climate changes.

Detailed in the February 27 issue of Science, their data disproves a long-held idea that massive ice growth in the Antarctic was accompanied by little to no global temperature change.


Unlike Diamonds, Most Minerals Not Forever

From Live Science:

Diamonds may be forever, but that’s not true of most minerals. In fact, about two-thirds of the 4,300 known minerals on Earth today owe their existence to biological processes, and thus evolved fairly recently in geological terms. So says Robert M. Hazen of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C., who with seven colleagues identified three phases of mineral evolution.

The first phase began more than 4.55 billion years ago, as the solar system started developing. Chemical elements came together, forming about 250 simple minerals that in turn coalesced into planets. On Earth, the second phase stretched from 4.55 billion to 2.5 billion years ago, starting with the violent collision that formed the Moon. Earth’s temperature and pressure varied wildly; plate tectonics began churning the planet’s surface; and volatiles appeared, such as water and carbon dioxide, helping to redistribute the elements. Those changes enabled the evolution of some 1,250 new minerals.


Hansen On “Death Trains” And Coal And CO2

From Watts Up With That?

NASA’s Dr. James Hansen once again goes over the top. See his most recent article in the UK Guardian. Some excerpts:

“The trains carrying coal to power plants are death trains. Coal-fired power plants are factories of death.”

And this:

Clearly, if we burn all fossil fuels, we will destroy the planet we know. Carbon dioxide would increase to 500 ppm or more.

Only one problem there Jimbo, CO2 has been a lot higher in the past. Like 10 times higher.


Inner Workings Of Photosynthesis Revealed By Powerful New Laser Technique

The laser light source used in this study was developed in the Physics Department at Imperial College and the technology transferred to RAL. It is capable of producing ultra-short pulses of light of very high intensity which are made up of a broad range of colours. (Credit: Image courtesy of Imperial College London)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Feb. 7, 2009) — Instant pictures showing how the sun’s energy moves inside plants have been taken for the first time, according to research out February 6 in Physical Review Letters.

The images unravel some of the inner workings of the most efficient solar energy process on earth – photosynthesis. Inside a photosynthetic protein, the sun’s energy is efficiently guided across the molecule to drive a chemical reaction that stores energy as food and takes in carbon dioxide. Scientists would very much like to harness this process as they search for new energy solutions to replace fossil fuels. To do this, they need to understand this energy transport process in more detail.


If There IS Life On Mars, This Is Where It Lives

Plumes of up to 19,000 tons of methane, pictured red,
were detected in Mars’ northern hemisphere

From The Daily Mail:

If there is life on Mars as NASA scientists claim, this is where it lives.

This extraordinarily detailed picture shows exactly where the most methane, taken as an indication of life, can be found.

Appropriately enough for the sphere dubbed the Red Planet , the scarlet areas are the places where scientists have detected the most of the gas.

The picture was released by NASA just days after the U.S. space agency confirmed the presence of methane on Mars.

It is the first ‘definitive proof’ of plumes of the gas seeping from the planet’s northern hemisphere.

And it is the strongest hint yet that alien microbes could be thriving deep below the red, dusty surface.

On Earth, 90 per cent of the methane produced is released by living organisms far beneath the soil.

‘It might be possible for similar organisms to survive for billions of years below the permafrost layer on Mars, where water is liquid, radiation supplies energy, and carbon dioxide provides carbon,’ said NASA scientist Professor Michael Mumma.


Top Emerging Environmental Technologies

Wasteful energy policies, overuse of resources, water supply shortages, global climate change, and deforestation are just some of the issues experts say need to be addressed for humans to achieve sustainable living on this planet. By the year 2025, an additional 2.9 billion people will strain tightening water supplies, and the world’s energy needs will go up 60 percent by 2030, according to the United Nations. LiveScience looks at 10 technologies – some old, some new, some a bit offbeat – that might help make the future a little brighter. – Sara Goudarzi

Make Paper Obsolete

Imagine curling up on the couch with the morning paper and then using the same sheet of paper to read the latest novel by your favorite author. That’s one possibility of electronic paper, a flexible display that looks very much like real paper but can be reused over and over. The display contains many tiny microcapsules filled with particles that carry electric charges bonded to a steel foil. Each microcapsule has white and black particles that are associated with either a positive or negative charge. Depending on which charge is applied; the black or white particles surface displaying different patterns. In the United States alone, more than 55 million newspapers are sold each weekday.

Bury The Bad Stuff

Carbon dioxide is the most prominent greenhouse gas contributing to global warming. According to the Energy Information Administration, by the year 2030 we will be emitting close to 8,000 million metric tons of CO2. Some experts say it’s impossible to curb the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere and that we just have to find ways to dispose of the gas. One suggested method is to inject it into the ground before it gets a chance to reach the atmosphere. After the CO2 is separated from other emission gases, it can be buried in abandoned oil wells, saline reservoirs, and rocks. While this sounds great, scientists are not sure whether the injected gas will stay underground and what the long-term effects are, and the costs of separation and burying are still far too high to consider this technology as a practical short-term solution.

Let Plants and Microbes Clean Up After Us

Bioremediation uses microbes and plants to clean up contamination. Examples include the cleanup of nitrates in contaminated water with the help of microbes, and using plants to uptake arsenic from contaminated soil, in a process known as phytoremediation. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has used it to clean up several sites. Often, native plant species can be used for site cleanup, which are advantageous because in most cases they don’t require pesticides or watering. In other cases scientists are trying to genetically modify the plants to take up contaminants in their roots and transport it all the way to the leaves for easy harvesting.

Plant Your Roof

It’s a wonder that this concept attributed to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of Seven Wonders of the World, didn’t catch on sooner in the modern world. Legend has it that the roofs, balconies, and terraces of the royal palace of Babylon were turned into gardens by the king’s order to cheer up one of his wives. Roof gardens help absorb heat, reduce the carbon dioxide impact by taking up Co2 and giving off oxygen, absorb storm water, and reduce summer air conditioning usage. Ultimately, the technique could lessen the “heat island” effect that occurs in urban centers. Butterflies and songbirds could also start frequenting urban garden roofs, and like the king’s wife, could even cheer up the inhabitants of the building. Here, a green roof is tested at Penn State.

Harness Waves and Tides

The oceans cover more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface. Waves contain an abundance of energy that could be directed to turbines, which can then turn this mechanical power into electrical. The obstacle to using this energy source has been the difficulty in harnessing it. Sometimes the waves are too small to generate sufficient power. The trick is to be able to store the energy when enough mechanical power is generated. New York City’s East River is now in the process of becoming the test bed for six tide-powered turbines, and Portugal’s reliance on waves in a new project is expected to produce enough power for more than 1,500 homes. Here, a buoy system capable of capturing the oceanes power in the form of offshore swells is illustrated by researchers at Oregon State University.

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion

The biggest solar collector on Earth is our ocean mass. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the oceans absorb enough heat from the sun to equal the thermal energy contained in 250 billion barrels of oil each day. The U.S. consumes about 7.5 billion barrels a year. OTEC technologies convert the thermal energy contained in the oceans and turn it into electricity by using the temperature difference between the water’s surface, which is heated, and the cold of the ocean’s bottom. This difference in temperature can operate turbines that can drive generators. The major shortcoming of this technology is that it’s still not efficient enough to be used as a major mechanism for generating power.

Sunny New Ideas

The sun’s energy, which hits Earth in the form of photons, can be converted into electricity or heat. Solar collectorscome in many different forms and are already used successfully by energy companies and individual homeowners. The two widely known types of solar collectors are solar cells and solar thermal collectors. But researchers are pushing the limits to more efficiently convert this energy by concentrating solar power by using mir
rors and parabolic dishes. Part of the challenge for employing solar power involves motivation and incentives from governments. In January, the state of California approved a comprehensive program that provides incentives toward solar development. Arizona, on the other hand, has ample sunshine but has not made solar energy a priority. In fact in some planned communities it is downright discouraged by strict rules of aesthetics.

The ‘H’ Power

Hydrogen fuel cell usage has been touted as a pollution-free alternative to using fossil fuels. They make water by combining hydrogen and oxygen. In the process, they generate electricity. The problem with fuel cells is obtaining the hydrogen. Molecules such as water and alcohol have to be processed to extract hydrogen to feed into a fuel cell. Some of these processes require the using other energy sources, which then defeat the advantages of this “clean” fuel. Most recently, scientists have come up with ways to power laptops and small devices with fuel cells, and some car companies are promising that soon we’ll be seeing cars that emit nothing but clean water. The promise of a “hydrogen economy,” however, is not one that all experts agree will ever be realized.

Remove the Salt

According to the United Nations, water supply shortages will affect billions of people by the middle of this century. Desalination, basically removing the salt and minerals out of seawater, is one way to provide potable water in parts of the world where supplies are limited. The problem with this technology is that it is expensive and uses a lot of energy. Scientists are working toward better processes where inexpensive fuels can heat and evaporate the water before running it through membranes with microscopic pores to increase efficiency.

Make Oil from Just about Anything

Any carbon-based waste, from turkey guts to used tires, can, by adding sufficient heat and pressure, be turned into oil through a process called thermo-depolymerization, This is very similar to how nature produces oil, but with this technology, the process is expedited by millions of years to achieve the same byproduct. Proponents of this technology claim that a ton of turkey waste can cough up about 600 pounds of petroleum.

Carbon Dioxide Helped Ancient Earth Escape Deathly Deep Freeze

Researchers speculate that during the Cryogenian Period, about 840 to 635 million years ago, advancing ice was stalled by the interaction of the physical climate system and the carbon cycle of the ocean, with carbon dioxide playing a key role in insulating the planet. (Credit: iStockphoto)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Dec. 8, 2008) — The planet’s present day greenhouse scourge, carbon dioxide, may have played a vital role in helping ancient Earth to escape from complete glaciation, say scientists in a paper published online today.

In their review for Nature Geoscience, UK scientists claim that the Earth never froze over completely during the Cryogenian Period, about 840 to 635 million years ago.

This is contrary to the Snowball Earth hypothesis, which envisages a fully frozen Earth that was locked in ice for many millions of years as a result of a runaway chain reaction that caused the planet to cool.


My Comment: I live half of the time up north in the Laurentians of Quebec. It is -22C. outside right now. Hmmmm …. more carbon dioxide please.