Can you guess the commonly available car that has the lowest carbon footprint? We did the math, and here’s the chart. And if you already own an EV, take a bow.
The US EPA today released its proposal to restrict carbon emissions from new power plants, a major step toward curbing the greenhouse gases forcing climate change.
In his first major policy address since taking over at the Department of Energy, Dr. Ernest J. Moniz sought to explain the administration’s “all of the above” energy plan and answered critics who accuse Obama supporting natural gas development despite concerns that fracking contaminates air and water.
Wildfire trends in the West are clear: there are more large fires burning now than at any time in the past 40 years and the total area burned each year has also increased.
Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is hovering at a landmark 400 parts per million, a level never before experienced by human beings. Scientists say we’re playing with fire, risking the planet’s future if we don’t start to lower the greenhouse gas levels forcing climate change. How should we react to this news? First, we need to envision climate change more accurately, as a deadly threat.
For anyone who doesn’t want to reduce carbon emissions, China seems like a great scapegoat. The defenders of the status quo argue that U.S. companies will be at a disadvantage if we tax carbon or invest in clean energy because “China’s not doing anything.” Problem is: It’s not true.
Warmer than average global surface temperatures in 2011 added up to make the year the 9th warmest on record, or since 1880, when modern record-keeping began, according to NASA.
The finding, according to NASA scientists at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), confirms that the Earth’s temperatures are warming overall, with 9 of the 10 warmest years occurring since 2000. The only 20th Century year in the top ten was 1998. (2005 and 2010 tied for the hottest year(s) on record.)
Sadly, as the threat of climate change worsens, U.S. lawmakers move further away from practical solutions.
Last week, NASA reported that 2010 was the second hottest year on record, capping the warmest decade in modern times. Climate change continues, despite our currently frozen fingers as we clear the windshield of ice and snow (these big snowstorms in fact could be part of the pattern of climate change’s more erratic and severe storm systems).
This news of temperatures continue their upward march is no surprise to climate scientists who’ve measured the atmospheric carbon dioxide that’s a key creator of the greenhouse effect here on Earth. Atmospheric CO2 once measured around 250 parts per million before the industrial revolution. Now, after 160 years of burning fossil fuels on an industrial scale, we’re at 390 ppm, well above the comfort zone of 350 ppm and on our way to levels that could be terribly unhealthy for humans. Scientists have set an upper limit of 450 ppm of CO2, above which is a vast unknown and before which, are a series of tipping points that could render the whole discussion moot.
The EPA’s decision to increase the allowable percentage of ethanol in gasoline to 15 percent has ignited a fiery debate among America’s mega-industrial interests. Watching the Titans queue up on their respective sides of this issue has been almost embarrassing; there are so many nakedly exposed agendas and odd alliances.
What’s not so amusing are the serious environmental consequences of both the production and combustion of ethanol. But first let’s sort out the teammates.
America’s public health leaders have raised their voices against Congressional waffling over climate action, releasing a letter today signed by 120 top public health groups that urges Congress not to interfere with the EPA’s plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
The EPA’s mandate to regulate carbon emissions has been a lightning rod in Washington, with some in Congress saying the agency does not have the authority to set carbon guidelines and penalize violators. States, such as Texas, have sued over the issue, also trying to stop the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases.
Green Mountain Energy Company is looking for Houston-area non-profit groups that would like to harness the power of that blazing Texas sun. Every year for the past eight years, the clean energy retailer has donated solar rooftop systems to selected organizations through its Big Texas Sun Club. Groups that want to be considered this year must apply to Green Mountain Energy at the club’s website by Friday, July 30, 2010.
By Diane Porter
Green Right Now
Next Monday, in what is billed as the largest mass civil disobedience rally for the climate in U.S. history, organizers expect thousands of people to join in a protest at the Capitol Power Plant in Washington, D.C. Hoping to bring attention to the issues of climate change and green jobs to the new administration and new Congress, the protestors are expected from around the country, spurred on by support and videos from actress and activist Susan Sarandon and NASA’s James Hansen.
“We want to send a clear message to Congress and the Obama administration that Americans aren’t satisfied with the action that’s been taken on climate yet,” said Mike Crocker, a spokesperson for Greenpeace. “We need robust policies in place as soon as possible, certainly in time for (the next United Nations Climate Talks) in Copenhagen in December 2009.”
By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now
Just like you hunt for that Energy Star tag when examining a fridge or washer, people in California can now duck under the hood of any new 2009 model car to get an at-a-glance emissions rating.
The Environmental Performance sticker, mandated to begin on Jan. 1 for all new model cars, will include two scores, one rating the car’s smog emissions and the other its greenhouse gas output. The air pollutants for the latter include carbon dioxide emissions, which make up the greatest volume of greenhouse gases. Gas engine cars emit nitrous oxides, methane gases, hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide and other emissions.