When U.S. air traffic was grounded for three days after September 11th, meterologists got a bit of a surprise. Apparently, the lack of airplane contrails -- the high altitude trails of condensed water that form around tiny particles from engine exhaust -- had a measurable effect on the climate. (More in this document.) Apparently, contrails reflect sunlight during the day, but also trap heat at night. On net, researchers believe that contrails can have two to three times as much climate-warming power as the CO2 emitted in airplane exhaust. Now, the L.A. Times is reporting on a study by a British research team that found that the biggest contrail impacts come from nighttime flights (when contrails reflect solar radiation back to the earth's surface) and during winter months. "We get one-half of the climate effect from one-quarter of the year, from less than one-quarter of the air traffic," said meteorologist Nicola Stuber, who led the English research team. "If you get rid of the night flights, you can reduce the climate warming effect of the contrails." The quick fix: a few schedule changes. A bit inconvenient, perhaps, but hardly inconceivable.
Hangin' in St. Louis for my three-hour layover. No hottie musician-type sightings to report.
In the last five years, I can count on one hand the number of times environmental groups have come together to praise a new policy by President Bush -- and that one hand was probably making a fist. So for the ocean conservation community to be celebrating the president's announcement today, you know this is a VERY big deal. George W. Bush is designating the world's largest fully protected marine reserve -- 84 million acres to be exact. A biologically rich string of islands known as the Northwestern Hawaii Islands (NWHI) will now enjoy complete federal protection from commercial fishing activities as a new National Monument. This is fantastic news for the seals, turtles, albatrosses, sharks, corals, and other marine life that call these waters home, and a strange, welcome, happy, confusing moment for conservationists everywhere. Congratulations to our colleagues who worked so hard to make this happen, including the Pew Charitable Trusts, The Ocean Conservancy, Marine Conservation Biology Institute, Environmental Defense, and especially all the groups in Hawaii. Read all about it.
Speaking of "energy security," I give you Reuters:World leaders must not allow concern for energy security to distract them from taking promised action on global warming, top world scientists said on Wednesday. Climate change solutions agreed at the G8 summit in Scotland a year ago risked being pushed off the agenda at next month's G8 summit in Russia by worries about security of energy supply, they said.
Good for Bush:President Bush plans to designate an island chain spanning nearly 1,400 miles of the Pacific northwest of Hawaii as a national monument today, creating the largest protected marine reserve in the world, according to sources familiar with the plan. Establishing the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands as a strictly protected marine reserve, which Bush is slated to announce this afternoon, could prove to be the administration's most enduring environmental legacy. The roughly 100-mile-wide area encompasses a string of uninhabited islands that support more than 7,000 marine species, at least a fourth of which are found nowhere else on Earth.
Don't miss NYT enviro reporter Andy Revkin on NPR's Fresh Air.
A few days ago I noted that GM had responded to Thomas Friedman's attack. Today, Friedman responds to the response, and continues to beat GM around the head and shoulders. Sadly, all this takes place behind the dread NYT Select wall, so you'll just have to take my word for it.
In a very Forbsian way, of course: First, get rid of all other energy taxes. And legislation, while we're at it. Then tax carbon. Slowly. Start at a penny a pound, then increase -- let's not get crazy -- a penny a year. The devil's always in the details. The link makes you join, so I've pasted it below.
Protestors at L.A.'s South Central farm were evicted yesterday: It took authorities nearly eight hours to forcibly clear protesters from the farm. Officials bulldozed vegetable gardens and chopped down an avocado tree to clear the way for a towering Fire Department ladder truck so the final four protesters could be plucked from a massive walnut tree. See pictures here. More bulldozing feels inevitable, but supporters haven't given up hope. What you can do (from a press release):