Fast-Rising Demand for Air Conditioning Is Adding to Global Warming. The Numbers Are Striking.

Fast-Rising Demand for Air Conditioning Is Adding to Global Warming. The Numbers Are Striking.

SOURCE: Inside Climate News DATE: November 12, 2018 SNIP: Increasing demand for home air conditioning driven by global warming, population growth and rising incomes in developing countries could increase the planet’s temperatures an additional half a degree Celsius by the end of the century, according to a new report by the Rocky Mountain Institute. The demand is growing so fast that a “radical change” in home-cooling technology will be necessary to neutralize its impact, writes RMI, an energy innovation and sustainability organization. The problem with air-conditioning comes from two sources: the amount of energy used, much of which is still powered by carbon-emitting coal, oil and gas generation, and the leaking of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) coolants, which are short-lived climate pollutants many times more potent than carbon dioxide. Approximately 1.2 billion window-mounted air conditioning units and other small-scale, room-cooling devices are currently in use worldwide. By 2050, the figure is expected to increase to 4.5 billion, according to RMI. Many of today’s air conditioners use hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), coolants that are short-lived climate pollutants that can leak into the atmosphere at the end of an air conditioner’s useful life when the devices are destroyed. HFCs remain in the atmosphere for an average of 14 years and are approximately 1,000 to 3,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Energy demand is the other side of the residential cooling problem. RMI estimates that the amount of energy that will be required to power the 4.5 billion window air conditioners expected by 2050 is equivalent to the current electricity demand of the United States, Germany and Japan combined. Growth in...
Pollution is slowing the melting of Arctic sea ice, for now

Pollution is slowing the melting of Arctic sea ice, for now

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: August 3, 2018 SNIP: The Arctic is one of the “canaries in the coal mine” for climate change. Long ago, scientists predicted it would warm quicker than other parts of the planet, and they were right. Currently, the Arctic is among the fastest-warming places on the planet. Part of the reason is that as the Arctic warms, ice melts and ocean water is uncovered. The ocean is darker than ice so it in turn absorbs more sunlight and increases its warming. This is a feedback loop. Humans emit greenhouse gases that trap heat. We know that and we have known that for a long time. Greenhouse gases make the Arctic warmer. But, other things are happening too. There are natural changes to the Arctic. There are also other human pollutants that affect the ice. For instance, humans emit small particles called “aerosols” that can get into the atmosphere and block sunlight. So, these human aerosol emissions can actually cause cooling. The authors concluded that the combined cooling effect from human aerosols was detected in all three datasets of ice. That means, it didn’t matter whose measurements you used – the effect of aerosol cooling was present. So how much of an effect do aerosols have? It turns out 23% of the warming caused by greenhouse gases was offset by the cooling from aerosols. Unfortunately, this isn’t good news. It means that if/when humans reduce our aerosol pollution, the warming in the Arctic and the ice loss there will be worse. This puts us into a Faustian bargain. We want to reduce airborne pollution, like sulfur...
Far More Methane Leaking at Oil, Gas Sites in Pennsylvania than Reported

Far More Methane Leaking at Oil, Gas Sites in Pennsylvania than Reported

SOURCE: Inside Climate News DATE: February 16, 2018 SNIP: Leaks of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from oil and gas sites in Pennsylvania could be five times greater than industry reports to state regulators, according to a new analysis by the Environmental Defense Fund. Drawing from peer-reviewed research based on measurements collected downwind of oil and gas sites, along with government data, the EDF analysis estimates that the state’s oil and gas wells and infrastructure leak more than 520,000 tons of methane annually, largely due to faulty equipment. “This wasted gas causes the same near-term climate pollution as 11 coal-fired power plants and results in nearly $68 million worth of wasted energy resources,” the group said in its report, released Thursday. Methane, the primary constituent of natural gas, is a greenhouse gas about 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a century. The Trump administration has been working to roll back several policies and initiatives that were designed to rein in methane emissions, most recently to end requirements to limit leaks at oil and gas sites on federal...
B.C. ill prepared to cope with climate change: auditor general

B.C. ill prepared to cope with climate change: auditor general

SOURCE: Alaska Highway News DATE: February 15, 2018 SNIP: B.C. will not meet its 2020 greenhouse gas emission targets and is not adequately prepared to mitigate the impact of fire, flooding, and drought precipitated by climate change, B.C. Auditor General Carol Bellringer says. In an audit of B.C. climate change policies and the province’s ability to address both risk and adaptation, Bellinger confirmed what the B.C. government already has admitted: it is not on track to meet its interim 2020 targets of reducing greenhouse gases by 33% below 2007 levels by 2020. But it’s also unlikely to meet its longer-range targets either, Bellringer concludes, with its current climate change policies, and says carbon taxes alone are insufficient tools for reducing GHGs. “The trajectory to 2050 is indicating it will not be met with what’s currently in the plans, and that’s even before you take into account the LNG,” Bellringer said at a press conference Thursday, February 15. Then again, few jurisdictions in the world are on track to meet their respective climate change targets. Even Germany, often held up as the climate change poster child, has considered scrapping its 2020 interim targets – an acknowledgement that it won’t meet them. A paper in Nature last year says that all major industrialized countries are failing to meet their climate change commitments and suggested that too many countries are focused on “numerical targets” and should focus more concrete...
Baltic Sea clams ‘giving off as much gas as 20,000 cows’

Baltic Sea clams ‘giving off as much gas as 20,000 cows’

SOURCE: BBC News DATE: October 13, 2017 SNIP: Scientists have found clams and worms in the Baltic Sea are giving off as much gas as 20,000 dairy cows. They are worried because large amounts of methane and nitrous oxides are being released from the bacteria in their guts. The discovery of these greenhouse gases means they will need to be taken into account when tackling global warming. A Cardiff and Stockholm universities’ study found 10% of methane emissions from the Baltic Sea came from clams. The study’s co-author Dr Ernest Chi Fru, from Cardiff University’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, said: “What is puzzling is that the Baltic Sea makes up only about 0.1% of Earth’s oceans, implying that globally, apparently harmless bivalve animals at the bottom of the world’s oceans may in fact be contributing ridiculous amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere that is unaccounted...