Archive for the ‘climate change’ Category

Analysis of 187 documents concludes Exxon “misled the public” on climate change

August 24th, 2017

Enlarge / Oil processing towers and gas processing infrastructure stand at the Exxon Mobil Corp. (credit: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A review of 187 ExxonMobil documents, published by two Harvard researchers on Wednesday, has found that the company ”misled the public” on climate change.

The documents included internal papers published by journalists at InsideClimate News as well as 50 “peer-reviewed articles on climate research and related policy analysis” written by ExxonMobil researchers. The oil and gas company made the internal papers public and challenged anyone to “read all of these documents and make up your own mind,” accusing journalists of cherry-picking data.

Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes, from Harvard’s Department of the History of Science, took up that challenge, comparing the information in the documents cited by ExxonMobil against the information conveyed in the publicly-available advertorial columns published by the company on anthropogenic (or human-caused) climate change in the New York Times. They found that “83 percent of peer-reviewed papers and 80 percent of internal documents acknowledge that climate change is real and human-caused, yet only 12 percent of advertorials do so, with 81 percent instead expressing doubt.”

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Posted in Biz & IT, climate change, exxon, science | Comments (0)

Health benefits of wind and solar offset all subsidies

August 17th, 2017

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Wind and solar energy are obviously essential in reducing carbon emissions, but they also have a remarkable side effect: saving lives. As they edge out fossil fuels, renewables are reducing not just carbon emissions, but also other air pollutants. And the result is an improvement in air quality, with a corresponding drop in premature deaths.

A paper in Nature Energy this week dives into the weeds by trying to estimate the economic benefits of wind and solar power across the whole of the US. Berkeley environmental engineer Dev Millstein and his colleagues estimate that between 3,000 and 12,700 premature deaths have been averted because of air quality benefits over the last decade or so, creating a total economic benefit between $30 billion and $113 billion. The benefits from wind work out to be more than 7¢ per kilowatt-hour, which is more than unsubsidized wind energy generally costs.

Death is in the air

Poor air quality is a tricky beast in public health, since it’s not obvious when someone dies as a result of air pollution. The World Health Organization estimates that air pollution leads to around 7 million premature deaths globally each year—people dying earlier than they otherwise would have from heightened incidence of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease.

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Posted in climate change, public health, renewable energy, science | Comments (0)

Health benefits of wind and solar offset all subsidies

August 17th, 2017

Enlarge

Wind and solar energy are obviously essential in reducing carbon emissions, but they also have a remarkable side effect: saving lives. As they edge out fossil fuels, renewables are reducing not just carbon emissions, but also other air pollutants. And the result is an improvement in air quality, with a corresponding drop in premature deaths.

A paper in Nature Energy this week dives into the weeds by trying to estimate the economic benefits of wind and solar power across the whole of the US. Berkeley environmental engineer Dev Millstein and his colleagues estimate that between 3,000 and 12,700 premature deaths have been averted because of air quality benefits over the last decade or so, creating a total economic benefit between $30 billion and $113 billion. The benefits from wind work out to be more than 7¢ per kilowatt-hour, which is more than unsubsidized wind energy generally costs.

Death is in the air

Poor air quality is a tricky beast in public health, since it’s not obvious when someone dies as a result of air pollution. The World Health Organization estimates that air pollution leads to around 7 million premature deaths globally each year—people dying earlier than they otherwise would have from heightened incidence of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease.

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Posted in climate change, public health, renewable energy, science | Comments (0)

We know Vikings as infamous raiders—was that merely a response to climate change?

August 6th, 2017

Enlarge / Clouds hover above the surrounding geothermal waters at the Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik, Iceland in 2008. (credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Beneath their still surfaces, the lakes of some Arctic islands may hide the story of the rise and fall of Viking chiefdom.

Historians still aren’t sure exactly what led to the centuries of Viking raiding and expansion, a period politely known as the Scandinavian Diaspora that ran from the late eighth century to the mid-11th. Population pressures and political rivalries probably played a role, but changing climate around the North Atlantic may also have given the Scandinavians a push.

So far, paleoclimate researchers have mostly focused on warmer climates in the Vikings’ destinations, like Iceland, which might have drawn people to settle there. But those who set sail may have been facing trouble with the crops back home thanks to changing temperatures. A team of researchers hope to find some answers in a new series of sediment cores from ancient lakebeds in a remote Norwegian island chain.

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Posted in climate change, Features, science, vikings | Comments (0)

Germany’s Bundesrat votes to ban the internal combustion engine by 2030

October 10th, 2016

(credit: Toni Almodóvar Escuder @ Flickr)

Is the tide turning for the internal combustion engine? In Germany, things are starting to look that way. This is the country that invented the technology, but late last week, the Bundesrat (the federal council of all 16 German states) voted to ban gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles by 2030.

It’s a strong statement in a nation where the auto industry is one of the largest sectors of the economy; Germany produces more automobiles than any other country in Europe and is the third largest in the world. The resolution passed by the Bundesrat calls on the European Commission (the executive arm of the European Union) to “evaluate the recent tax and contribution practices of Member States on their effectiveness in promoting zero-emission mobility,” which many are taking to mean an end to the lower levels of tax currently levied on diesel fuel across Europe.

Europe bet big on diesel, something that now seems increasingly misguided with continuing revelations about companies cheating their emissions tests and the growing awareness of the health implications of diesel particulates.

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Posted in Cars Technica, climate change, diesel, gasoline, internal combustion engine | Comments (0)