David Keith: A surprising idea for “solving” climate change

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Environmental scientist David Keith proposes a cheap, effective, shocking means to address climate change: What if we injected a huge cloud of ash into the atmosphere to deflect sunlight and heat?

Gas Zappers- solo show at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

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Please come to Gas Zappers solo show at BAM/PFA! We are gonna debut the long anticipating Gas Zappers’s online game. I will be there on Oct 30 giving talk to Prof. Richard Rinehart‘s class.

October 22, 2008 – February 8, 2009

Gas Zappers, by artist Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung, is an interactive online art game that tackles global warming. Hung is among the contemporary artists and educators who have adopted video games as a new platform for social debate and aesthetic experience by developing “serious games.” In Gas Zappers, the idiom of the video game is exploited to challenge and illuminate the simplistic notion of quick fixes to environmental issues.

Berkeley and the Bay Area have been at the center of the cultural debate around alternative energy sources and global warming, due in no small part to developments like the $500 million joint project between UC Berkeley and British Petroleum to develop alternative biofuels. Gas Zappers furthers this discourse in a serious game that is also at times fantastical and wry.

Like much of the artist’s work, Gas Zappers is visually frenetic and colorful, referencing numerous popular and political sources. The animation style of Gas Zappers reinforces and goes beyond the game’s subject of global warming, caricaturing the exasperating and vulgar noise of the political media engine itself. In adopting the artistic strategies of photomontage, political satire, humor, and surrealism, Hung is an artistic descendent of Dadaist John Heartfield, whose photomontages lampooned Hitler and Mussolini. Ken Johnson wrote for the New York Times, “Looking at Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung’s art is like peeking into the fever dream of an overworked political blogger. Mr. Hung, 31, is a fierce, funny and inventive political satirist.”

Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung received a New Media Fellowship, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, to develop Gas Zappers. A video version of the work was shown in the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. BAM/PFA’s exhibition, on view starting October 22 at bampfa.berkeley.edu/exhibition/gaszappers and in the museum’s Bancroft Lobby, is the world premiere of the fully realized work, including the interactive game.

Richard Rinehart
Digital Media Director and Adjunct Curator

Chair of the IPCC urges pople to eat less meat

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Dr Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, challenged our reliance on high meat consumption, showing how livestock production releases 18% of our global greenhouse gas emissions, can pollute water and soils, damages our health and often causes suffering to animals kept in factory farms.

He said, “One kilo of beef is responsible for the equivalent of the amount of CO2 emitted by the average European car for every 250 kms”

Referring to the inefficiency of livestock production, he pointed out that: “A farmer can feed up to 30 persons throughout the year on one hectare with vegetables, fruits, cereals and vegetable fats. If the same area is used for the production of eggs, milk or meat the number of persons fed varies from five to ten.”

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Make solar cells in pizza oven

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Nicole Kuepper, a PhD student and lecturer in the school of photovoltaic and renewable energy engineering at the University of NSW Australia has developed a simple, cheap way of producing solar cells in a pizza oven.

From Sydney Morning Herald:

Today’s photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight to electricity are expensive and need sophisticated, “clean” manufacturing plants.

Ms Kuepper realised a new approach would be needed if affordable cells were to be made on site in poorer countries: “What started off as a brainstorming session has resulted in the iJET cell concept that uses low-cost and low-temperature processes, such as ink-jet printing and pizza ovens, to manufacture solar cells.”

While it could take five years to commercialise the patented technology, providing renewable energy to homes in some of the least developed countries would enable people to “read at night, keep informed about the world through radio and television and refrigerate life-saving vaccines”. And it would also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Ms Kuepper said that the solar cells should be of high enough quality to be used anywhere in the world, including Australia.

The Cryosphere Today

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The Cryosphere Today is a website by University of Illinois devoted to the current state of our cryosphere. It gathers and re-represent the snow and ice data from the National Center for Environmental Prediction/NOAA. One can download the Sea Ice Animations from 1978-2006 and a custom apps for iPhone.

From Wikipedia:

“The cryosphere, derived from the Greek word kryo for “cold” or “too cold”, is the term which collectively describes the portions of the Earth’s surface where water is in solid form, including sea ice, lake ice, river ice, snow cover, glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets, and frozen ground (which includes permafrost). The cryosphere is an integral part of the global climate system with important linkages and feedbacks generated through its influence on surface energy and moisture fluxes, clouds, precipitation, hydrology, and atmospheric and oceanic circulation. Through these feedback processes, the cryosphere plays a significant role in global climate and in climate model response to global change.”

Australia ratifies Kyoto Protocol

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“Prime Minister Kevin Rudd signed the instrument of ratification of the Kyoto Protocol in his first act after being sworn in this morning.

The ratification will come into force in 90 days.

“This is the first official act of the new Australian government, demonstrating my government’s commitment to tackling climate change,” Mr Rudd said in a statement.

Mr Rudd said the ratification was considered and approved by the first executive council meeting of the government this morning.

“The governor-general has granted his approval for Australia to ratify the Kyoto Protocol at my request,” he said.

Under United Nations guidelines, ratification comes into force 90 days after the instrument of ratification is received by the UN, making Australia a full member of the Kyoto Protocol by the end of March 2008.”

Original article via The West

EA And BP Collaborate To Include Climate Education In SimCity Societies

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Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: ERTS) and BP have collaborated to include climate change education within SimCity Societies, the next iteration in the genre-defining city-building franchise that has sold more than 18 million games to date. The collaboration brings together world-class game building skills and industry expertise on energy, electricity production and greenhouse gas emissions to highlight the impact of electricity generation on the emissions of carbon dioxide that are linked to climate change. The low-carbon electricity choices and monitoring of SimCity’s carbon emissions provide an entertaining, fully-integrated and accurate look at some of the causes and some of the major solutions available to combat rising levels of carbon and to help address the threat of global warming.

The game does not force players to power their cities any specific way, but allows them to make choices, each of which come with advantages and disadvantages. Similar to real-life, the least expensive and most readily-available buildings in SimCity Societies are also the biggest producers of carbon dioxide, an invisible gas that contributes to global warming. Should players choose to build cities dependent on these types of sources for power to conserve their in-game money, their carbon ratings will rise and, at reaching critical levels, the game will issue alerts about the threat of the various natural disasters like droughts, heat waves and others that may strike their cities.

Alternatively, players can strive to create a greener environment and avoid hazards caused by excessive carbon emissions by choosing from a variety of BP Alternative Energy low-carbon power options. Using hydrogen and natural gas plants to wind farms and solar power, SimCity Societies encourages people to learn about some of the causes and consequences of global warming in an engaging, educational and meaningful way. While these power sources maintain nearby property values and keep the cities’ citizens safer from disaster, they also mimic real-life in that they cost players more of their funds, and do not produce as much power as less green options that take up similar space. Informative real-world snippets about power production and conservation will also be available in-game, informing players of global warming issues both virtually and in reality.

RealCost

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aawhole.gifRealCosts is a Firefox plug-in that inserts emissions data into travel related e-commerce websites. The first version adds CO2 emissions information to airfare websites such as Orbitz.com, United.com, Delta.com, etc. Following versions will work with car directions, car rental, and shipping websites. Think of it like the nutritional information labeling on the back of food… except for emissions. RealCosts is developed by Michael Mandiberg.

Prime example beware of the carbon offset plan

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WTF? Dump 45 tonnes of iron dust into the sea to feed phytoplankton for “ecorestoration” then sell those “carbon credits” to hotels as a form of combating climate change?

Planktos Inc., which has offices in Vancouver and San Francisco, wants to set sail this month from Florida to dump more than 45 tonnes of iron dust into the sea near the Galapagos Islands.

The iron nutrients would stimulate the growth of phytoplankton, which would then absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide — an experimental process Planktos compares to reforestation. Planktos Inc. says phytoplankton, seen in bright blue and green, would be increased if iron dust was dumped in the ocean, boosting carbon dioxide absorption.

A for-profit “ecorestoration” company, Planktos plans to sell carbon credits from this type of project to firms like Vancouver’s Wedgewood Hotel and Spa, which has agreed to buy 5,000 tonnes of carbon credits.

The firm launched its two-year “Voyage of Recovery” program in March, launching a public relations campaign in Washington, D.C., to promote its “green message of hope.”

original article via Free Republic

New Phytoplankton Model May Revise Warming Estimates

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How can Phytoplankton, the microscopic plants that live in the ocean which perform two-thirds of all the Earth’s photosynthesis and directly affects the concentrations of CO2 in the ocean, be left out in the climate simulation model for the whole time?

Global climate models are missing a good chunk of plant information that could significantly alter long-term climate change predictions. A new technique for modeling phytoplankton — microscopic plants in the upper layers of the Earth’s waters — could reveal a much more accurate picture.

“(Other) modelers have populated their oceans with three or four kinds of plants, said Mick Follows, a researcher in MIT’s Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate. “We’ve represented a much more diverse community, and allowed it to have interactions that regulate it more naturally.”

Phytoplankton populations are constantly changing, which makes them difficult to predict. So the MIT researchers developed an algorithm using evolutionary principles to more accurately represent the microscopic plants. A more precise count is important because phytoplankton process carbon dioxide — a significant contributor to global warming.

Original Article via WIRED

Southern ocean carbon sink weakened

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Original article via CSIRO Australia

Scientists have observed the first evidence that the Southern Ocean’s ability to absorb the major greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, has weakened by about 15 per cent per decade since 1981.

Dr Paul Fraser, who leads research into atmospheric greenhouse gases at CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, says the international team’s four-year study concludes that the weakening is due to human activities.

“The researchers found that the Southern Ocean is becoming less efficient at absorbing carbon dioxide due to an increase in wind strength over the Ocean, resulting from human-induced climate change,” Dr Fraser says.

“The increase in wind strength is due to a combination of higher levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and long-term ozone depletion in the stratosphere, which previous CSIRO research has shown intensifies storms over the Southern Ocean.”

The increased winds influence the processes of mixing and upwelling in the ocean, which in turn cause an increased release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, reducing the net absorption of carbon dioxide into the ocean.

“Combined, the Earth’s land and ocean sinks absorb about half of all carbon dioxide emissions from human activities,” Dr Fraser says. “The Southern Ocean takes up 15 per cent of these emissions, hence a reduction in its efficiency will have serious implications for atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations over coming decades.”

Burning Man goes green!

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2007 Burning Man‘s theme is called “The Green Man” that celebrates clean energy, green technology and environmental responsibilities. Already a festival with a strong leave no trace behind consensus, this year’s the Burning Man figure will “stand atop a structure that resembles green mountain peak. Nestled at its base, will be the Green Man Pavilion, 30,000 square feet of shaded exhibition space for the display of interactive artistic, scientific and educational models, a “World’s Fair” of emerging technologies.”

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One of the centerpieces, Jim Mason‘s Mechabolic, is an 80-foot-long slug that will process garbage and turn it into clean energy using “Gasification” technology similar to the energy-from-waste project led by researchers at Purdue University. “The Mechabolic invites participants to walk through the innards of an exploded metabolic animal and contribute their waste paper, wood, coffee grounds and food compost to the fuel making effort. Participants can watch all fuel/food processing through transparent process tanks and plumbing, as well as handle the feed and fuels at various points in the “refining” process. All in all, a fun house walk-through journey of machine digestion and respiration –from mouth to anus, oil well to gas tank, trash dumpster to carburetor plenum– with all the interstitial fun and mysteries of organic chemistry implied therein.”

Cnet has a great article explaining the projects and Eco Razzi has a detailed overviews of this year festival.

26 most common climate myths debunked

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Original Article from New Scientist.

Human CO2 emissions are too tiny to matter

We can’t do anything about climate change

The ‘hockey stick’ graph has been proven wrong

Chaotic systems are not predictable

We can’t trust computer models of climate

They predicted global cooling in the 1970s

It’s been far warmer in the past, what’s the big deal?

It’s too cold where I live – warming will be great

Global warming is down to the Sun, not humans

It’s all down to cosmic rays

CO2 isn’t the most important greenhouse gas

The lower atmosphere is cooling, not warming

Antarctica is getting cooler, not warmer, disproving global warming

The oceans are cooling

The cooling after 1940 shows CO2 does not cause warming

It was warmer during the Medieval period, with vineyards in England

We are simply recovering from the Little Ice Age

Warming will cause an ice age in Europe

Ice cores show CO2 increases lag behind temperature rises, disproving the link to global warming

Ice cores show CO2 rising as temperatures fell

Mars and Pluto are warming too

Many leading scientists question climate change

It’s all a conspiracy

Hurricane Katrina was caused by global warming

Higher CO2 levels will boost plant growth and food production

Polar bear numbers are increasing

Warmer Ocean Temperatures are Killing Coral Reefs

Climate Change, Miscellaneous 3 Comments »

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Global warming is creating a devastating effect on some of the world’s finest coral reefs. The Famous Caymans coral reefs are dying, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is plagued with mysterious “White Syndrome”, here’s some info from Australian Institute of Marine Science Australia and their positions on the latest IPCC “Climate Change 2007” report.

Scientists have been arguing “Is climate change likely to increase disease in corals?Dr John Bruno from the University of North Carolina explaining the clear scientific links between the widespread disease and ocean temperatures in an radio interview.

Meanwhile, Nature Conservancy is teaming up with Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the NOAA to see if coral reef can be reborn?

Interview with George Monbiot

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George Monbiot is a columnist for the British newspaper Guardian and author of the bestselling books Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning, Captive State and The Age of Consent.

You can watch the rest of the interview at The Real News.

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