Malaysia's orchid mantis has a pretty uncreative name, given that it is a mantis that looks exactly like an orchid. But we'll cut it some slack, because it's a mantis that looks exactly like an orchid, and man, that's really cool.
What synthetic compound has 27 fluorine atoms, a dozen carbon atoms, and a dash of nitrogen? The world's worst known greenhouse gas.
A class of compounds known as perfluoroalkyl amines have been manufactured for more than 50 years for use by the electronics industry. Climate scientists don't know much about them, but they have been worried for some time that they could be affecting the climate. And a new study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, seems to have confirmed some of their worst fears.
In the blustery Midwest, wind energy is now coming in even cheaper than natural gas. From Greentech Media:
"In the Midwest, we're now seeing power agreements being signed with wind farms at as low as $25 per megawatt-hour," said Stephen Byrd, Morgan Stanley’s Head of North American Equity Research for Power & Utilities and Clean Energy, at the Columbia Energy Symposium in late November. "Compare that to the variable cost of a gas plant at $30 per megawatt-hour. ..."
Byrd acknowledged that wind does receive a subsidy in the form of a production tax credit for ten years at $22 per megawatt-hour after tax. “But even without that subsidy, some of these wind projects have a lower all-in cost than gas,” Byrd said.
Memo to adventurous career seekers: The planet is going to hell in a handbasket, but you can make the most of it by joining an industry that's guaranteed to keep growing as the atmosphere keeps warming: firefighting.
As drought-parched forests and grasslands increasingly combust, the U.S. government is spending more than ever before on firefighting -- $1.9 billion last year. That should be creating some job opportunities.
Not content to just hang out in your own country, idly battling blazes and risking your life for the protection of exurban McMansions? Well, then why not jet off to a fireswept pyromaniac's paradise? Australia, the home of the bushfire, is going to need to double the number of firefighters it employs over the coming years as the already parched continent is ravaged by ever more droughts and heat waves. That's according to a study just published by Australia's Climate Council:
Imagine an Italian chef tossing fresh pizza dough aloft in slow motion. Now imagine a drunk frat boy eagerly wrestling his pizza box from the underpaid delivery guy. Do you hate happiness and magic? Do you want both of those imaginary pizza commercials to DISAPPEAR?
Will climate change leave your investment portfolio stranded like a polar bear on melting ice floe? If your pension fund or 401(k) manager invests in fossil fuel companies, it just might.
Last year, the International Energy Agency warned that a third of the world’s oil, coal, and other fossil fuel reserves must remain untouched until 2050 to stave off catastrophic climate change. That, naturally, freaked out some investors. What’s the future worth of an ExxonMobil or a Chevron if governments ever get their act together and impose carbon taxes that make burning that dinosaur juice unprofitable? That would transform those fossil fuel reserves into “stranded assets,” turning the billions of dollars spent discovering and securing that untapped oil, natural gas, and coal into liabilities.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy is in China this week for her first international trip as the head of the agency. During her four-day tour she'll stop by Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong and will meet with her counterparts in the Chinese government to discuss how the two countries might reduce their carbon footprint. "The U.S. and China represent the world's largest economies, the world's largest energy consumers, and the world's largest emitters of carbon pollution," McCarthy said last week in a speech previewing her trip. "I'd rather not be the largest energy consumers or the largest emitters of carbon pollution, but since we are we're going to get together and we're going to talk."
The world better hope the planet's two dominant superpowers can find a way to curb their pollution. The U.S., which is responsible for much of the rise in emissions during the 20th century, is certainly one of the world's leading villains when it comes to global warming. But China is now, by far, the world's top producer of climate-destroying pollutants. The country claimed the top spot in global carbon emissions in 2007, nabbing the reins from the U.S. (To be fair to China, the U.S. emits far more carbon per capita.)
Combined, China and the U.S. produce nearly half of the world's carbon emissions. This chart breaks down the percentage of global CO2 emissions from 2008 by country:
Although we here at Grist think that living without children is a viable and commendable life choice, we really don't have anything against babies. Promise. (Really, they're cute!) What we do have a problem with is all the stuff that babies supposedly "need" -- it's expensive, both environmentally and financially, and when it comes down to it, it’s often unnecessary.
What we do like is when baby stuff doesn't outlive its usefulness after just a few months. Like this stroller. Strollers are convenient: They enable, for instance, parents who live in cities to transport their children more than one block away from their home without breaking their backs or walking at the pace of a human being with very small legs. Eventually, though, kids outgrow strollers.
Climate researchers figured out a little while ago that people's personal experience with temperatures can affect their beliefs about climate change. This is good and bad: A hot summer, for instance, can make people more likely to believe climate change exists, but a cold winter can bring out the Jim Inhofe in the best of us.
When asked about the summer of 2010, which brought record-setting heat to the East and Midwest, those who believed that global warming is not happening were significantly less likely to report that they had experienced a warmer-than-normal summer, even when controlling for local climate conditions.
There's an abundance of snowy owls on the East Coast right now, likely caused by a boom in lemmings. Snowy owls summer in the Arctic, where they gorge on lemmings, the News-Journal explains, and in years where lemmings are plentiful, so are owls. A larger owl population means it's more likely for some to make their way this far south.
In Delaware, they're just excited the owls are there. According to the News-Journal, there are "at least five … as many as seven" in the state.