Midnight In The Desert — greenhouse effect

If we stopped emitting greenhouse gases right now, would we stop climate change?

Posted by K R on

If we stopped emitting greenhouse gases right now, would we stop climate change?

Earth's climate is changing rapidly. We know this from billions of observations, documented in thousands of journal papers and texts and summarised every few years by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The primary cause of that change is the release of carbon dioxide from burning coal, oil and natural gas. One of the goals of the international Paris Agreement on climate change is to limit the increase of the global surface average air temperature to 2 degrees Celsius, compared to preindustrial times. There is a further commitment to strive to limit the increase to 1.5°C. Earth has...

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New Way of Transforming CO2 Is More Efficient Than What Plants Do

Posted by K R on

New Way of Transforming CO2 Is More Efficient Than What Plants Do

By tinkering with the process that plants use to breathe in carbon dioxide, a team of German scientists has just discovered a far more efficient way to get rid of it. Biochemists led by Tobias Erb at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg, Germany, have developed a new, super-efficient method for living organisms to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere. Plants, algae, and other organisms turn CO2 into fuel. Erb and his colleagues reengineered this process, making it about 25 percent more energy efficient and potentially up to two or three times faster. The study appears in...

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Is using less water the secret to cutting our greenhouse gas emissions?

Posted by K R on

Is using less water the secret to cutting our greenhouse gas emissions?

When most of us think of slowing global warming, we think of reducing car exhaust and power plant emissions – limiting activities that involve combusting fossil fuels. But we rarely draw the connection between the production of energy and another important resource: water. Yet in California, 20% of the state’s electricity and 30% of the natural gas that isn’t used by power plants goes to the water system – from pumping it for delivery to disposing of wastewater. Could saving water play a significant role in addressing climate change? And, if so, could we achieve these savings without incurring significant...

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What is the best description of the greenhouse effect?

Posted by K R on

What is the best description of the greenhouse effect?

What exactly is the greenhouse effect? And what does it look like if we view it from a new angle? Of course, we know the answer, and Raymond Pierrehumbert has written an excellent paper about it (Infrared radiation and planetary temperature). Computer code used in climate models contain all the details. But is it possible to provide a simple description that is physically meaningful and more sophisticated than the ‘blanket around earth’ concept? I wanted a description that could be grasped by physicists. Without the clutter of too much details – just the essentials. A ‘back-of-the-envelope’ type derivation of the...

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