Science can now make energy by building immense wind turbine blades and filtering carbon from the air, but the challenge is commercial viability.
By many accounts, the spread of solar power is unstoppable. Costs continue to fall at a blistering pace, solutions to give consumers a solar-powered home without needing to connect to the grid for back-up power are emerging, and even the
When you cut and burn a tropical forest, you’re left with a barren plain of cracked red mud, incapable of supporting life – the opposite of the teeming, hyperdiverse array of life that was destroyed. Once the trees are gone, the nutrients wash away and the soil degrades into a dense, brick-like layer so hardened that plant roots can’t get through it.
The international community has been negotiating on climate change since 1989, but the Paris Agreement marks a real step forward. It aims to accelerate a move away from fossil fuels to mitigate global warming and to help vulnerable countries adapt to the effects of climate change, and reflects a clear recognition of the urgency of the task.
Despite robust global economic growth over the past two years, worldwide carbon emissions from fossil fuels grew very little in 2014, and might even fall this year.
There has been a rapid decline in the costs of solar and wind power, to such an extent that both technologies are now cheaper than nuclear or coal. This development will radically transform global electricity generation networks.
The UK could reduce its emissions by converting farmland to absorb more carbon dioxide − but risks increasing climate change effects abroad.
There’s a curious paradox at the heart of climate change. Despite scientists asserting the need for urgent action and the widespread acceptance of the reality of climate change by people worldwide, it is a subject that we tend not to talk about with friends, family or colleagues.
A slowing economy and falling energy demand, plus concerns over air pollution, spur Beijing to halt new coal mines and close hundreds of existing operations.
How did we get to where we are now? “Free range” capitalism could be the explanation for climate change, and needs taming, says one writer.
The Paris agreement was a diplomatic triumph. The nations of the world spoke with one voice of their desire to limit the damage of climate change. But there is a distinct disconnect between the ambition and the action required to achieve that goal.
Despite what the doubters say, a low-carbon economy is not only possible, it makes economic sense.
The UN climate talks in Paris have ended with an agreement between 195 countries to tackle global warming. The climate deal is at once both historic, important – and inadequate. From whether it is enough to avoid dangerous climate change to unexpected wins for vulnerable nations, here are five things to help understand what was just agreed at COP21.
Climate science has been instrumental in developing the ambitious carbon emission reduction targets negotiated at the recent climate talks in Paris. At the same time, the kinds of actions needed to avert the worst effects of climate change demand new ways of engaging that go far beyond science and formal diplomacy.
Discussions at the Paris climate talks took place within incredibly narrow parameters. In fact, it would not be too great an exaggeration to say that the summit’s main purpose is to send the private sector a message about which way it should steer its future investments.
The world’s soils could be a key ally in the fight to limit global warming to 2℃, thanks to their ability to store carbon and keep greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.
Buddhist leaders are urging global leaders to cooperate with compassion and wisdom and reach an ambitious and effective climate agreement at the 21st Session of the Conference of Parties (COP21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris.
The quest is on to develop new technology that can tap the intense heat deep below the Earth’s surface and supply the whole world with electricity.
The cost of solar energy continues to fall, so it is no surprise that more people are adopting solar. This rapid growth of rooftop solar, however, has led many electric utilities to try to apply the brakes.
French wine lovers have always taken their soil very seriously. But now the country’s government has introduced fresh reasons for the rest of the world to pay attention to their terroir.
If we can convince people that climate change is real and important, then surely they will act: this intuitive idea underlies many efforts to communicate climate change to the public.
There are two extremes in the debate over capitalism’s role in our present climate change problem. On the one hand, some people see climate change as the outcome of a consumerist market system run rampant. In the end, the result will be a call to replace capitalism with a new system that will correct our present ills with regulations to curb market excesses.
Ethiopia and Morocco praised for pledges on reducing greenhouse gases that are far more ambitious than those of China and Canada.
As humans become an urban species researchers find evidence that cities with more green space are best for human wellbeing.
Massive solar power stations are being built in the world’s “sun belts” − with the US and India competing to have the largest in the world.
Democrats (myself included) enjoy ridiculing Republicans who deny the scientific consensus behind climate change. But we then deny the inconvenient truth behind our own preferred climate policies: they will have regressive impacts on the poor and middle class.
The G7 nations, at the week’s summit in Germany, have called for “a decarbonization of the global economy over the course of this century”. Of course, this group of nations is among those most heavily in favor of strong climate action, but the opportunities for climate-friendly growth are everywhere.
The article in The Australian by Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonjhelm highlighted some very good points about wind turbine noise and its effect on people living near them. People are complaining of a range of health related problems and are attributing them to wind turbines. The question is: what is the cause of these health problems?
New report says a successful outcome at this year’s Paris climate talks will be far more likely if the world takes note of how China is reducing emissions. The pace of change in China’s energy policy means that the targets it has set for cutting greenhouse gases (GHGs) are likely to be achieved sooner than expected, according to a new study.
Eminent group urges governments to make the massive research investment that would enable the world to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy by 2025. The vision is simple, the cost would be eye-watering, and the result could stop the growing threat from burning fossil fuels in its tracks.
The Indian Ocean can be an angry and sometimes lethal neighbour, but those who live beside it are now learning how to prepare for its next onslaught.
Trillions of dollars need to be redirected into building low-carbon economies to avoid serious climate change, the UN warns.
Economic links with China help Pakistan tap into enormous solar energy potential that can provide clean power to boost production and reduce poverty. One of the world’s largest solar plants has been opened in Pakistan with the aim of supplying clean, reliable energy and helping alleviate the country’s chronic power shortages.
In 1900, humans travelled a total of just 0.2 trillion km by vehicle, nearly all by train. By 1950, people travelled a total of 3.3 trillion km, and by 2010, the annual total was over 40 trillion km – or over 133,000 round trips to the sun. That’s an average of nearly 6,000 km per person each year. About half of all travel was by car, and 12% was by air.
São Paulo’s ongoing water crisis has left many of the city’s 20m or more residents without tap water for days on end. Brazil’s largest metropolis is into its third month of water rationing, and some citizens have even taken to drilling through their basements to reach groundwater.
Climate-friendly boost for global energy mix as scientists say solar power alone could now meet the needs of California five times over.
Inside a sprawling single-story office building in Bedford, Mass., in a secret room known as the Growth Hall, the future of solar power is cooking at more than 2,500 °F.
An increasingly water-stressed world takes a new look at desalination. It seems simple enough: Take the salt out of water so it’s drinkable. But it’s far more complex than it appears at first glance. It’s also increasingly crucial in a world where freshwater resources are progressively strained by population growth, development, droughts, climate change and more.
If you want to know what we have to do to avoid catastrophic climate change, 17 of the world’s leading climate scientists have worked out a simple but challenging solution: the world, they say, must turn by mid-century into a zero-carbon society.
The researchers say their act-now, save-future-costs model not only demonstrates the dangers of underestimating the cost of future climate change, but is the first one to emerge from a purely market-based approach. The considerations do not have to be based on moral judgements about sustainability and the wellbeing of future generations.
California’s byzantine water system and crushing drought are leading farmers to extraordinary measures as they try to keep themselves from running dry. On a warm March afternoon, farmer Cannon Michael walks alongside wheat fields adjacent to his house in Los Banos, in California’s Central Valley. Most of these fields won’t be watered again this year.
New technologies are about to disrupt the traditional energy market in a big way. What if you could sit at home and use your smartphone to buy energy directly from the wind farm down the road or the solar panels on the local school roof? After all, you can already control your heating from your phone and set your washing machine going from your tablet...
The urge to solve humankind’s energy-generating problems is felt by innovators around the planet. Before the Internet and its open sourcing of knowledge, lone inventors tried to single-handedly save us from our dependence on dirty fuels. And long before hippies saw the dawning of an Age of Aquarius, a few individuals discovered that water is a key to independence.
Texas is known for cheap and plentiful energy resources, but they’re usually of the dirty, fossil fuel–based variety. That reputation is changing. Texans can now buy renewable energy packages that are as cheap as or cheaper than the coal- or natural gas–based alternatives.
After years of bitter disappointment, things look different now. Sure, U.S. state houses and Congress are a denier-dominated mess, the big Paris conference is already being written off, and the on-the-ground evidence is looking bleak. But after years of cynicism, I see elements of a sea change in urgency and attitude on climate.
The announcement that a pioneering wave farm off Perth has started generating electricity is an exciting and welcome development. The project, developed by Fremantle-based Carnegie Wave Energy, features two buoys, 11 m in diameter, below the sea surface (with a third to follow).
Cities may only occupy about 2% of the world’s habitable land, but they are big drivers of global climate change. Cities are usually hotter than rural areas, and get referred to in the jargon as “urban heat islands.”
In April 2015, we will mark the five-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The accident released millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, causing extensive impacts on the marine ecosystem, wildlife habitat, and the fishing and tourism industries in Louisiana and other Gulf states.
It can be tempting to think that people who disagree with you are mad, bad or simply stupid. However, not only are such judgements usually wrong, but telling people that they are stupid is unlikely to convince them of the merit of your own view.
China has now overtaken the European Union as the largest new market for solar power as the industry becomes one of the fastest growing in the world.
In this red state, publicly owned utilities provide electricity to all 1.8 million people. Here's how Nebraska took its energy out of corporate hands and made it affordable for everyday residents.
Over the past five years the world has seen a dramatic fall in the cost of solar energy, particularly rooftop solar panels or solar photovoltaic power. It is now a real alternative and considerable player in the power markets.
According to the pundits and techno-prophets who dominate the media, the future of transportation is all figured out for us. Cheaper gas prices mean we can still count on our private cars to take us everywhere we want to go. The only big change down the road will be driverless autos, which will make long hours behind the wheel less boring and more productive.
Scientists in the US estimate that economic damage caused by CO2 could be six times higher than the value used to guide current energy regulations.
Increasing oil production but falling demand is creating big problems for the fossil fuel industry as some investors are now turning away from the sector.
Chemicals are all around us. They are crucial in all manner of industries, from agriculture to food to cosmetics. Most people give little thought to how these chemicals are made – and certainly very few would consider the chemical industry as a contributor to our society’s dependence on oil. But it is.
Increased production from US fracking operations is a major reason for the drop in oil prices, but there are warnings that the industry now faces a crisis.
Emissions from planes are a major clause of climate change, yet they remain unregulated. Can they be curbed in time to protect the planet?
A few years ago, the Mexican government pinpointed a promising method for reducing carbon dioxide emissions: Encourage Mexicans to trade in their old refrigerators, air conditioners, light bulbs and the like for more up-to-date models. But how to pay for the program, while making it affordable for poor households?
India’s contribution to global carbon emissions was only 7% last year, yet there are fears being expressed in the western world that rapid population growth and development will mean this vast country will soon be a major polluter − like its neighbour, China.
The urbanization of our population has major implications for climate change. The sheer volume of all this growth in highly concentrated areas, combined with the corresponding growth in carbon emissions, requires that our cities be able to adapt and evolve more quickly than ever before.The good news is: they can.
As extremes of heat increasingly threaten to become the norm, scientists have invented a new way to reflect sunlight and beam heat away from buildings straight back into space.
When we design cities like ecosystems, they have the potential to address many of our most pressing issues. Of all the things people build, cities are the most important.
There is no shortage of shouting and dire warnings about the state of the climate and our need to phase out fossil fuels. But there is a more silent revolution happening too — in micropower.
The European Union, nervous about Russia cutting off gas supplies and keen to cut emissions by developing renewable energy sources, aims to link all its 28 member states to one electricity grid.
The United States, the world’s biggest historical emitter of greenhouse gases, has pledged to cut emissions by 26-28% by 2025 relative to 2005 levels, while China, the current biggest emitter, has promised to peak its emissions by no later than 2030.
A new book argues that death threats and abuse illustrate how climate change messengers are being demonised in a way that is without parallel in the history of science.
Warnings within the world of high finance are coming thick and fast that the increasingly urgent need to combat climate change means investors could lose heavily by sinking funds into coal, oil and gas.
When it comes to providing jobs and money to towns and cities, not all renewable energy is created equal. At last month’s People’s Climate March, among the most popular signs were ones supporting renewable energy like wind and solar as the best way to avoid a climate catastrophe.
Through burning fossil fuels, humans are rapidly driving up levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which in turn is raising global temperatures.
Groups have been divesting money from oil, coal, and gas for years. Now they’re hoping to get more climate-healing bang for their buck.
International researchers, in what they believe is the most comprehensive global assessment of clean energy’s potential, report that a low-carbon system could supply the world’s electricity needs by 2050.
Global business can find good investments that also address climate change by looking to the world’s most vulnerable populations.
Researchers’ urgent message to world leaders at the UN climate summit: save 1.4 million lives and trillions of dollars by controlling vehicle pollution, improving public transport and shifting away from the car culture.
Combined, the People’s Climate March on Sunday followed by Flood Wall Street the next day, uplifted a narrative around climate change that was impossible for even the most mainstream of media to ignore. In the words of Fox News talking head James Carville, “It’s the economy, stupid.”
Despite what appears to be an insurmountable problem, it may be possible to significantly reduce global water scarcity in 35 years.
Two companies in Japan recently announced they are to begin building two huge solar power islands that will float on reservoirs. This follows Kagoshima solar power plant, the country’s largest, which opened in late 2013 and is found floating in the sea just off the coast of southern Japan.
The critical links between water, sanitation, and our global consumption of energy – the “energy-water nexus” are more obvious than ever before. But how many of us will take direct action at the most basic level of all?
Whenever I tell people I work with solar cells I am asked the same two questions: are they ever going to be really cheap? And can you get me some? While the answer to the second question is no, the answer to the first is a lot more positive.
Scientists in the US believe they have identified a way to feed billions more people, while at the same reducing the strains and stresses on the environment.
Globally 1.2 billion people live in areas of water scarcity — defined by the United Nations as locations with an annual water supply that drops below 1,000 cubic meters per person.
The UK government’s senior adviser on science has made an entirely sensible call for researchers and policy makers to move the climate change debate towards workable strategies and solutions. The trouble is, the models we have for assessing those strategies are deeply flawed.
A guidebook with a difference is selling well in Germany. It details nearly 200 renewable energy sites it thinks will appeal to tourists. Wind turbines and solar panels: do you love them or hate them? Do you think of renewable energy as the way to a greener future, or an awful blight on the present?
Reducing deforestation in the tropics would significantly cut the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by as much as one-fifth, research shows.
Last month, a researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., loaded a postage stamp–sized solar cell onto a tray and placed it under a high-intensity pulse solar simulator. A new world record for solar photovoltaic efficiency had been set.
The “Meatless Mondays” campaign was originally thought up to support the war effort during World War I, but now a modern army is using it to fight an even bigger battle—the one against climate change. It's not just Norway where the military is concerned about climate change. Former United States army officer...
The majority of Americans believe that global warming is real. A fewer number believe that it is a threat and less still believe that it is caused by humans. These are really amazing numbers...
Scientists in the US have found new ways to make biofuel, increase crop yields and exploit carbon dioxide through novel applications of familiar materials.
Bioenergy and biofuels have an important role to play in lowering the use of carbon-intensive fossil fuels – a point underscored by the IPCC report which confirmed the need for further research to improve such technology.
Global warming will be bad. Geoengineering could make it worse. Once again, a research team has considered all the benefits of climate technofix – that is, deliberate steps to neutralize the consequences of unrestrained greenhouse gas emissions – and come to a grim conclusion.
Forget the cost of mitigating climate change, say two researchers. It’s impossible to work out how much it will be – and whatever it is, we should do it anyway. Two researchers who tried to work out the economics of reducing global climate change to a tolerable level have come up with a perhaps surprising answer...
The forests stretching from Mexico through Central America have some of the richest species diversity on the planet. But despite expansive conservation efforts, this region continues to face staggering rates of forest destruction
Recent signs that Barack Obama may approve the Keystone XL pipeline have some environmentalists feeling down about the future of the climate. But huge and positive changes are quietly taking place.
Painting building roofs white could cool some major cities baking in the intensifying heat of a changing climate. How much benefits white roofs could bring depend on the region of the country they’re installed in and the season, new research shows.
Farmers may be able to rear livestock which produce fewer emissions from their stomachs of methane, one of the most important greenhouse gases. Stand by for a new breed of farm animal – the low-methane cow
The final film in the “Story of Stuff” series asks, What if the goal of our economy wasn’t more, but better—better health, better jobs, and a better chance to survive on the planet? In an ad for a major phone company blanketing TV this year, a circle of doe-eyed children is asked: "Who thinks more is better than less?"
If we really believe that doom is a viable expression of the endgame, wouldn’t we try to resolve some of this thanatos by“wresting control of our lives” from an inherently sick society? Wouldn’t we want to resolve remnants of cognitive dissonance by making our day-to-day behaviors more congruent with our “talk”?