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And at what temperature Greenland’s ice sheet will melt

Climate tipping points have been the subject of much debate and confusion. Now Professor Tim Lenton of the University of East Anglia has published a very good piece, "Tipping points in the Earth System," giving some intellectual substance to the notion. Not surprisingly, the tipping point Prof. Lenton worries about most is the disintegration of Greenland's ice sheet. He told The Guardian: We know that ice sheets in the last ice age collapsed faster than any current models can capture, so our models are known to be too sluggish. His paper examines where Greenland's tipping point is: Our present warming …

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Substitution isn’t the solution to peak oil

The growing recognition that the world is at or nearly at the all-time peak of conventional oil production (meaning from that point on, oil flows will inexorably decline at some unknown rate) has prompted a furious search for replacements, all intended to keep the high-carbon, high-flying, automobile lifestyle going. Like crack addicts warned of a future shortage, we are literally searching the corners of the Earth to figure out how we're going to get our fix when times is tight. But given our climate crisis, peak oil could be appreciated as a push in the direction we already have to …

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A new technology to reduce GHG emissions from coal plants

The carbon capture and storage (CCS) discussion has focused on pre-combustion capture of CO2, since it has long been assumed that it is easier and cheaper than trying to capture the CO2 post-combustion from the flue gas (exhaust stream). The problem is: (1) that approach limits CCS to new coal plants, and (2) that requires utilities to build integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plants, which are more expensive to build and more expensive to maintain. Post-combustion capture would allow CCS to be retrofitted on existing coal plants. If it proves practical and affordable, that would be a major breakthrough in …

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Each country will have to find its own way to carbon neutrality

Thankfully the lay press has finally stopped calling for the United States to follow Brazil's lead for energy independence. The blogosphere took over where the lay press left off on that misdiagnosis, although I still hear the echo once in a while. Turns out, Brazil may be heading for an energy crunch of its own. According to this article in the Economist, Brazil may be experiencing blackouts within five years if the economy grows as predicted. Because they are fat with rivers, they plan to build more dams, which is one of those damned damned if you do dam, damned …

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Don’t pretend to write about this stuff out of concern, please

A while back, a guy who writes for a magazine called Radar emailed to alert me of his "exclusive" discovery that Barbara Streisand is totally a hypocrite!!1! I replied, in so many words: eh. Apparently it struck a nerve, as he has now gone on to pen an opus that strains mightily to convince us that celebrity eco-hypocrisy is a Very Important Subject that we should all take Very Seriously. Eh. Look, if he wants to spend his time on this stuff, it's his business. I can see the appeal. It's a cheap way to generate traffic. The hoi polloi …

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Except not really

I don't do much writing about peak oil here. It's horrifically depressing, for one thing, and for another I doubt I could add to the comprehensive work being done at the Oil Drum and elsewhere. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. If you're like me and you only tune in to the issue occasionally, check out the latest from Michael Klare over at TomDispatch: "Tough oil on tap." It's a nice, fairly concise roundup of the latest reports and news from the peak oil world. And yeah, it's depressing. Here's the conclusion: Read from this perspective, the recent …

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‘The fact is climate change is real,’ he says

John McCain says global warming would be one of three key issues in his presidency, The Aspen Times reports. That's sure to endear him to the GOP base as much as his stance on immigration.

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All So You Can Have Cheap Electricity

Three workers killed, six injured in Utah coal-mine rescue effort Three rescue workers were killed and at least six others injured when a section of Utah's Crandall Canyon coal mine caved in Thursday night. The workers were involved in the nine-day effort to reach six miners trapped deep within the mine. Seismic activity has caused the operation to halt several times; a seismic "bump" caused the latest collapse. The injured included two officials from the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. "The seismic activity underground has just been relentless," said Bob Murray, head of Murray Energy Corp., which co-owns the …

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The tragedy grows

Two Three rescue workers were killed and at least seven six others injured when a tunnel collapsed in Crandall Canyon mine, the site of a rescue operation attempting to reach six miners that have been trapped inside for what is now 11 days without contact. Mine officials are discussing whether to shut down the rescue effort.

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Scientists try to reduce methane emissions by tweaking cow diets

Did you know that cows belch every 40 seconds? I did not. A recent article in The Christian Science Monitor states this fun fact, and goes on to explain how scientists are trying to manipulate bovine diets to reduce the amount of methane that they emit: British researchers have begun a $1.5 million government research program to propose ways to change cows' diets in order to reduce methane production by feeding them grasses with higher levels of sugar, which facilitate digestion. "These grasses present a better balance of nutrients to the microbial population in the rumen and are used more …

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