Computer simulation of CO2 in the atmosphere

This is a really fascinating video showing CO2 levels dispersed throughout the atmosphere over a year, as simulated by NASA’s climate modeling program GEOS-5.  It’s really interesting to see how the levels change over the year based on plant growth, and also the stark differences between the northern and southern hemispheres.  Check it out below, or read about it more over at Wired.

The possibility of irreversible climate change

A draft UN science report, expected to be approved this week, warns that we’re on the path toward irreversible climate change.  We can still avoid that by making significant cuts to CO2 emissions, but the question is, will we?  Unless you’re a Republican (sorry, but I call it like I see it), you’ve probably already accepted that the current situation is unsustainable and that immediate change is needed.  What will it take?  Fortunately, the answer is ‘not much’…well, apart from a decision to change (which in this political climate in the US, is no small feat!).  A report from Deutsche Bank finds that rooftop solar will reach grid parity in all 50 states in the US by 2016.  This means the cost will be the same or less than getting power from the electric grid (10 states have already reached grid parity).  Removing the ‘cost’ argument from the debate will help a ton.  What about the reality that solar power is not a 24/7 energy source?  Good news there, too.  Many companies have been working on energy storage systems, and they’re looking more and more promising (meaning, closer to production!).  The latest is interesting…a company called Alevo has been operating out of the spotlight (sort of in stealth mode, though not like some startups)…and expects to be producing hundreds of utility-scale (read:massive) energy storage systems within a year.  These 1MWh containers use lithium ferrophosphate and graphite tech.  It’s easy to perhaps dismiss Alevo as yet another company with dreams and promises…except this one has raised a billion dollars from Swiss investors.  Whoa.  So they have the technology, they have the money, and they’re taking over a former Phillips Morris plant in North Carolina.  This is a company to watch.  Then of course you have Solar City looking to include battery storage systems with every home solar installation within 5-10 years.

So the future is bleak if we do not act…yet advances in technology along with greatly decreased costs is looking to push renewable energy to the forefront, despite the best efforts of Republicans opposing it.  Now, just imagine how awesome that industry could be if it actually had broad support!  Oh well.  It’s a tsunami that can’t be stopped, I think…fortunately!

Polar ice disappearing fast

gletscherIce sheets over Antarctica and Greenland are shrinking at an incredible rate of 120 cubic miles per year, and accelerating (the rate of ice loss has more than doubled since 2009).  While part of Antarctica is actually increasing in ice cover, overall the continent is on a definite decline.  Most of the ice loss, 90 cubic miles per year, is as a result of melting in Greenland.  The data comes from the CryoSat-2 satellite measuring the altitude of the ice over the continents.  Scientists have been using satellites to measure ice levels for about twenty years now.  You can read more about this at this link.

It’s sad to see our society at such an advanced level technologically, yet turning a blind eye to this problem.  Man-made climate change is a fact and one that will have to be dealt with sooner or later.  It’ll be expensive, but the costs only go up over time.

Why climate change scares me

If you want to know why I feel the way I do about climate change, watch this video from a TEDx conference two years ago:

The speaker talks about the path we’re on, where it’s headed, and what that really means for us.  He paints a pretty dire picture…and it’s worth noting that this video is two years old.  In that time, there’s been no action taken, and no science found to refute these conclusions…yet we remain mired in place, unable to embrace the science and take action.