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Explaining Extreme Events from a Climate Perspective

November 9, 2015 - 6:11am
Human activities, such as greenhouse gas emissions and land use, influenced specific extreme weather and climate events in 2014, including tropical cyclones in the central Pacific, heavy rainfall in Europe, drought in East Africa, and stifling heat waves in Australia, Asia, and South America, according to a new report released today. The report, “Explaining Extreme Events of 2014 from a Climate Perspective” published by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, addresses the natural and human causes of individual extreme events from around the world in 2014, including Antarctica. NOAA scientists served as three of the five lead editors on the report."For each of the past four years, this report has demonstrated that individual events, like temperature extremes, have often been shown to be linked to additional atmospheric greenhouse gases caused by human activities, while other extremes, such as those that are precipitation related, are less likely to be convincingly linked to human activities,” said Thomas R. Karl, L.H.D., director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. 

Dirty pipeline: Methane from fracking sites can flow to abandoned wells, new study shows

October 21, 2015 - 10:47am
As debate roils over EPA regulations proposed this month limiting the release of the potent greenhouse gas methane during fracking operations, a new University of Vermont study funded by the National Science Foundation shows that abandoned oil and gas wells near fracking sites can be conduits for methane escape not currently being measured.The study, to be published in Water Resources Research on October 20, demonstrates that fractures in surrounding rock produced by the hydraulic fracturing process are able to connect to preexisting, abandoned oil and gas wells, common in fracking areas, which can provide a pathway to the surface for methane.A recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science showed that methane release measured at abandoned wells near fracking sites can be significant but did not investigate how the process occurs.

Volkswagen begins recalling diesels in Europe

October 19, 2015 - 7:54am
The good news for Volkswagen is that it delivered almost 7.5 million vehicles to customers during the first three quarters of 2015. The bad news is that 8.5 million of VW’s cars will most likely be subject to a mandatory recall — and that’s just in Europe.The fallout from the Volkswagen emissions scandal continues to reverberate, four weeks after revelations about the installation of “defeat device” software in diesel-powered cars slammed the newswires. Now, the world’s largest automaker is facing a global public relations crisis. This includes its home base: 2.8 million of the recalled vehicles were sold in Germany.

EPA and the regulation of greenhouse gasses

October 16, 2015 - 9:43am
This week, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy joined private and public sector leaders for a second annual White House roundtable discussion about the progress made and new steps taken to curb emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), potent greenhouse gases used in refrigeration and air conditioning. Administrator McCarthy announced several new actions the agency will take to help support a smooth transition to climate-friendly alternatives to HFCs."EPA is working closely with industry leaders to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, transition to climate-friendly refrigerants, and deploy advanced refrigeration technologies,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “The powerful combination of EPA’s regulatory actions and innovations emerging from the private sector have put our country on track to significantly cut HFC use and deliver on the goals of the President’s Climate Action Plan.”

EU Health Forum considers crisis the new normal

October 5, 2015 - 8:00am
After nearly a decade of economic crisis, an Ebola epidemic in West Africa, and a refugee crisis, experts say that EU health systems must get used to the fact that "shockwaves" are here to stay.They hope that the Ebola outbreak will be a wake up call, that, without stronger European leadership, healthcare in the EU will come under many threats. At the European Health Forum Gastein (EHFG) on Thursday (1 October), DEVCO, the European Commission's Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, hosted a forum dealing with how to secure health in the EU through development work and international cooperation.

The Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal and it's potential impact on VW owners

October 1, 2015 - 7:53am
Out of the 250 million cars and trucks on U.S. roads, the impending recall at Volkswagen will involve just a half-million of them. But VW's emissions cheating scandal is receiving outsize attention because many of the company's customers feel duped. Now those customers are weighing what it will take to make them feel whole again.David Chien of Williston, Vt., was looking for a bigger, fuel-efficient car that could power its way through Northeastern snow. He says the 2013 Jetta SportWagen he bought "seemed to check all the boxes."

New England air quality update

September 29, 2015 - 8:27am
EPA today confirmed that New Englanders experienced a slight increase in the number of unhealthy air quality days this year, compared to 2014 and 2013.Based on preliminary data collected between April and September 2015, there were 24 days when ozone monitors in New England recorded concentrations above levels considered healthy. By contrast, in 2014 there were a total of 9 unhealthy ozone days, and in 2013 there were a total of 20 such days.The number of unhealthy ozone days in each state this summer is as follows:- 22 days in Connecticut (compared to 8 in 2014, and 18 in 2013)- 4 days in Rhode Island (0 in 2014, and 7 in 2013)- 3 days in Massachusetts (0 in 2014, and 6 in 2013)- 2 days in Maine (0 in 2014, and 5 in 2013)- 2 days in New Hampshire (1 in 2014, and 3 in 2013)- 0 days in Vermont (0 in both 2014, and 2013).

Diesel cars in the EU having trouble meeting emissions standards on the road

September 14, 2015 - 3:19pm
Every major car manufacturer is selling diesel cars that fail to meet EU air pollution limits on the road in Europe, according to data obtained by sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E). All new diesel cars should have met the Euro 6 autoemissions standard from 1 September – but just one in 10 tested complied with the legal limit. On average new EU diesel cars produce emissions about five times higher than the allowed limit. The results are compiled in a new report, Don’t Breathe Here, in which T&E analyses the reasons for and solutions to air pollution caused by diesel machines and cars – the worst of which, an Audi, emitted 22 times the allowed EU limit.

Climate talks in Paris may not make enough of a difference

September 14, 2015 - 12:37pm
It’s Paris or bust. Climate diplomats are preparing for a United Nations climate conference in the French capital in December that scientists say is probably the last realistic chance for the world to prevent global warming going beyond 2 degrees Celsius. Some kind of a deal will probably be done. But will it be one more diplomatic fudge or a real triumph for the climate? In the run-up to Paris, governments have been asked to deliver pledges to cut emissions of the greenhouse gases known to cause climate change. The pledges, covering the period between 2020, when the agreement should enter into force, and 2030, are known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs in the U.N. jargon. 

Air Quality in Scotland continuing to improve

September 11, 2015 - 9:06am
A new report published today shows Scottish emissions of most air pollutants have continued to fall, with significant reductions in emissions of all air pollutants since 1990.The announcement of the official figures was welcomed by Environment Minister Aileen McLeod who said an updated action plan to tackle nitrogen dioxide would soon be published.Dr McLeod said: “Air pollution is harmful to human health and can contribute to climate change, and I very much welcome the significant progress that has been made reducing emissions of nitrogen oxides and other air pollutants in Scotland.

NASA's latest satellite data reveals global sea level rise

August 27, 2015 - 9:49am
Global sea levels have risen nearly 3 inches in less than 25 years, with some locations around the world rising more than 9 inches, according to NASA’s latest satellite data. An intensive research effort now underway, aided by NASA observations and analysis, points to an unavoidable rise of several feet in the future.

Carbon Credits Under Kyoto Protocol Actually Increased Emissions

August 27, 2015 - 8:28am
At the end of November, governments will come together in Paris to hammer out agreements for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Under the KP, there are two greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions offsetting mechanisms: joint implementation (JI) and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).JI allows countries with emissions-reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to generate Emission Reduction Units (ERUs) from GHG reduction projects and transfer them to other countries. Almost 872 million ERUs had been issued under JI as of March 2015, about a third of all Kyoto offset credits. In a nutshell, JIs are carbon credits and include things like reforestation projects.

China's carbon emissions may be lower than estimated

August 20, 2015 - 2:30pm
The IPCC has over-estimated China's emissions since 2000 by 14%, almost 3 gigatonnes of carbon since 2000, while its energy consumption has been 10% higher than realised, writes Eliza Berlage. The country is far more carbon-efficient than we ever knew.

Neighborhood electric vehicles

August 17, 2015 - 8:23am
While much of the focus of late has been upon mainstream electric vehicles it seems as though the popularity of Neighborhood electric vehicles continues to grow. These vehicles have a history which is far more successful than there larger electric vehicle counterparts but receive very little in the way publicity or promotion. The Global Electric Motor (GEM) brand is by far and away the best known brand in this particular sector having changed hands on numerous occasions in the past.So, why is it that NEVs continue to sneak under the radar yet gain in popularity?

Commentary on the US plan to reduce carbon emissions

August 16, 2015 - 8:45am
President Obama's plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions may look like a climate victory, writes Tim Kruger - but it's no such thing. It's feeble because the US can meet its targets by reducing emissions to 2030 more slowly than it has since 2000. And it's fragile as any future President can scrap it at will.Climate change-denying Republicans hate this plan (of course), therefore all good climate realists see it as a triumph. But it is a tiny, tiny step in the right direction and climatically immaterial.No doubt, you heard the good news. Barack Obama has announced the US is pushing through plans to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Rejoice! Rejoice! We've got this climate problem licked - hurrah!

Power plant CO2 emissions at 27 year low

August 11, 2015 - 8:09am
Most of the environmental news we hear today is disheartening information about the consequences we’ll soon be facing thanks to climate change. Let’s take a momentary break from that sadness to focus on some good news: U.S. power plants are currently releasing the lowest amount of carbon emissions in 27 years. It seems like we might be making some progress!The low mark occurred in April of this year, when U.S. power plants generated just 141 million tons of carbon dioxide, a figure we haven’t seen since April of 1988. Because power plants produce roughly one-third of the country’s emissions, this measurement is one of the biggest indicators we have to see how we’re doing at tackling global warming.