How clean is natural gas? Although it is often lumped in with coal and oil, many in the energy industry are at pains to point out that burning gas to generate electricity produces fewer greenhouse-gas emissions than does burning other fossil fuels. Certainly, countries claim reductions in carbon emissions when they switch from coal to gas, as Britain did on a large scale in the 1990s. The growing popularity of shale formations as a source of gas has re-energized the debate over its environmental impact. To release the gas, engineers must split the rock by injecting fluid under high pressure, a process called fracking. Last year, researchers from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, said that with this taken into account, carbon emissions associated with shale gas were no better — or were worse — than those from coal.
Industry maintains that the problem has been exaggerated, and many scientists agree. Sorting fact from fiction has been difficult, however, because nobody had any independent data — until now.
As discussed on page 139, a study led by scientists from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), headquartered in Washington DC, and the University of Colorado in Boulder looked at methane and other emissions from a natural-gas field north of Denver, where fracking methods are used to open up sand formations.
From 2003 to 2010, NASA satellites systematically measured all of Earth's melting glacial ice--the results added up to 4.3 trillion tons of water and a global sea level rise of half an inch.
Put in perspective, that's enough ice to bury the entire U.S. 1.5-feet deep.
These calculations are detailed in a new study released today by a team of scientists at the University of Colorado. The scientists used satellite measurements from the NASA Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), which launched in 2002 and focused on how melting ice from glaciers and ice caps is adding to global sea level rise.
"Earth is losing a huge amount of ice to the ocean annually," said professor John Wahr, who helped lead the study. "These new results will help us answer important questions in terms of both sea rise and how the planet's cold regions are responding to global change."
BALTIMORE (AP) — The view off the mid-Atlantic shore in the next decade could include giant wind turbines generating electricity for homes in several states if federal efforts to speed approval for the projects shave years off the process as officials intend.
It usually takes at least five years from the time contractors say they want to lease a site to the turbines being installed, an offshore wind developer official said. But still, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Thursday that the future of the renewable energy source took a big step forward with the completion of a review that showed no major environmental damage was expected from the installation along the coasts of Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey.
Salazar said that clears the way for auctions and leases later this year and his department was also streamlining the process for issuing renewable energy leases. The federal decision means a lengthier environmental impact assessment for offshore power along the mid-Atlantic won't have to be conducted, although reviews for individual projects will still have to be done.
Two people named Redford have sharply differing opinions about Barack Obama’s decision to block the contentious Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would have run from Alberta down to Texas. The obscure Redford (Alison, the Premier of Alberta) is “bitterly disappointed,” while the famous Redford (Robert, the Hollywood celebrity) is ecstatic. He calls it “a victory of historic proportions” against “one of the most nightmarish fossil fuel projects of our time.” Whose side you’re on may say a lot about where you live and who you voted for.
For environmentalists, the decision is a long-overdue down payment on Mr. Obama’s campaign promise to wean the U.S. from its dependency on oil. But it’s much more than that. It’s a stand against the rape and pillage of the planet by greedy corporate interests that have politicians in their pockets. These environmentalists don’t really care about safety matters such as oil leaks or possible pollution of the aquifers. It’s the oil sands they hate – the water-gulping, forest-devastating, carbon-spewing monster that’s despoiling Mother Earth.
The hero and spiritual leader of the crusade to stop Keystone is a mild-mannered writer named Bill McKibben – like Mr. Obama, a graduate of Harvard who’s spent his life in the cultural world of upper-middle-class progressivism. He got his start writing short pieces for The New Yorker. His best-known book is the immensely influential The End of Nature, an eloquent polemic arguing that human influence has irrevocably altered the planet for the worse. Like David Suzuki, his comrade-in-arms, Mr. McKibben believes we have a moral imperative to tread more lightly and burn less fossil fuel. He lives in rural Vermont and, according to a sympathetic profile in this Sunday’s Boston Globe magazine, has a wood-fired hot tub.
Two world-renowned filmmakers were killed in a helicopter crash in Australia on Saturday. Mike deGruy, a biologist and conservationist, and Andrew Wight, a pilot and underwater cave diver, were working with James Cameron and National Geographic on a documentary film.
James Cameron and National Geographic released this statement:
The deep-sea community lost two of its finest yesterday when a helicopter carrying Andrew Wight and Mike deGruy crashed shortly after takeoff. Wight was the owner and pilot of the Robinson R-44 helicopter. Both men were world-renowned documentary filmmakers specializing in ocean exploration and conservation.
Wight was piloting the Robinson R-44 helicopter as it took off from an airstrip in Jasper’s Brush, near Nowra, 80 miles south of Sydney, New South Wales police said in a statement.
Andrew Wight, 52, was the documentary-producing partner of explorer-filmmaker James Cameron. After leading six deep ocean expeditions together, from which the films Ghosts of the Abyss, Aliens of the Deep, Expedition: Bismarck, and Last Mysteries of Titanic were made, the two recently co-produced Andrew’s first feature film, Sanctum 3D.
Mike deGruy, 60, spent 30 years producing and directing documentary films about the ocean. An accomplished diver and sub pilot who spent many hours filming deep beneath the sea, he was the director of undersea photography for Cameron’s Last Mysteries of the Titanic.