Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Climate-change technology risks catastrophic outcome

Risky and unproven climate-changing technologies could have "catastrophic consequences" for the earth and humankind if used irresponsibly, according to a new report.

Yet without drastic further cuts in carbon dioxide emissions, a geoengineering solution may offer the only hope of saving the world from disastrous run-away global warming, experts warned.

A report by the Royal Society, Britain's leading academic institution, looks at the feasibility and potential dangers of technologies designed to cool the earth.

They include artificial "trees" that suck carbon dioxide out of the air, and spraying sulphate particles high in the atmosphere to scatter the sun's rays into space. The scientists concluded that, although some approaches were possible, they had not yet been properly researched and posed serious potential dangers for the planet.

Professor John Shepherd, who chaired the Royal Society geoengineering working group, said: "It is an unpalatable truth that unless we can succeed in greatly reducing carbon dioxide emissions we are heading for a very uncomfortable and challenging climate future, and geoengineering will be the only option left to limit further temperature increases."

"Our research found that some geoengineering techniques could have serious unintended and detrimental effects on many people and ecosystems — yet we are still failing to take the only action that will prevent us from having to rely on them."

Article continues: http://www.birminghampost.net/birmingham-business/birmingham-business-news/other-uk-business/2009/09/01/climate-change-technology-risks-catastrophic-outcome-report-65233-24585797/

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Oceans Absorb Less Carbon Dioxide as Marine Systems Change

From: Ben Block, Worldwatch Institute, More from this Affiliate

The oceans are by far the largest carbon sink in the world. Some 93 percent of carbon dioxide is stored in algae, vegetation, and coral under the sea. But oceans are not able to absorb all of the carbon dioxide

released from the burning of fossil fuels. In fact, a recent study suggests that the oceans have absorbed a smaller proportion of fossil-fuel emissions, nearly 10 percent less, since 2000.

The study, published in the current issue of Nature, is the first to quantify the perceived trend that oceans are becoming less efficient carbon sinks. The study team, led by Columbia University oceanographer Samar Khatiwala, measured the amount of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions pumped into the oceans since 1765.

Industrial carbon dioxide emissions have increased dramatically since the 1950s, and oceans have until recently been able to absorb the greater amounts of emissions. Sometime after 2000, however, the rise in emissions and the oceans' carbon uptake decoupled. Oceans continue to absorb more carbon, but the pace appears to have slowed.

The reason is based in part on simple chemistry. Increased concentrations of carbon dioxide have turned waters more acidic, especially nearer to the poles. While carbon dioxide dissolves more readily in cold, dense seawater, these waters are less capable of sequestering the gas as the ocean becomes more acidic. The study revealed that the Southern Ocean, near Antarctica, absorbs about 40 percent of the carbon in oceans.

Article continues: http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6323