Tag Archives: Global Warming

New Books: ‘Literature For A Changing Planet’ By Martin Puchner (2022)

Ecology: Importance Of Peatlands In CO2 Capture

As more of the world’s forests are destroyed, it makes you wonder: what’s going to absorb CO2 in their place?! In an ironic twist of fate, one of Earth’s “deadest” habitats might be our best hope for an ongoing supply of breathable air.

Called peatlands, these wetland environments are named for their tendency to accumulate decayed plant matter. Unlike most other ecosystems, like forests, where branches and leaves typically decompose in a matter of months… in peatlands, that plant material can stay intact for millenia. You see, peatlands mostly exist in high altitude places where temps are low and there’s not much water flow. This results in their having extremely low oxygen and high acidity levels.

These harsh conditions aren’t very hospitable to microbes and fungi, which are instrumental to the whole decomposition process. So without them around, the plant material sort of… just sits. Over time, that it globs together to form peat, a thick, spongy material that can soak up 20x its weight in water. Peat also soaks up loads of carbon. Through a process known as the Calvin cycle, living plants absorb CO2 from the air and convert it into organic molecules that they can then use as energy to grow.

Through decomposition, the carbon that’s “fixed” in a plant’s structure gets released but since peat doesn’t decompose, that carbon can stay put! It’s estimated that peatlands contain 550 gigatonnes of organic carbon, which is twice as much organic carbon as all the world’s forests combined. That’s absolutely wild, considering that forests cover about 30% of the world’s land area… and peatlands only account for 3%! Like most of the world’s habitats, peatlands aren’t immune to the threats of human development and exploitation.

Peat is also are a very in-demand resource. Its incredible water holding capacity makes it a favorite amongst horticulturists; If you’ve ever picked up a bag of soil amendment, chances are it’s full of the stuff. Since peat is also a fossil fuel with a long burn, it’s used in some parts of the world. Peatlands are also often drained to accommodate other land use activities, like agriculture.

Analysis: Is Space-Based Solar Power The Future?

Space launch costs are dropping rapidly. Solar panels are cheaper than ever. Could space-based solar power soon be price-competitive with nuclear? Promoted as a zero-carbon solution, classified military space planes have also been conducting experiments into wireless power transmission. The FT’s Peggy Hollinger looks at whether space-based solar power can move beyond science fiction.

Analysis: Air Conditioning Is Warming The World

The warmer it gets, the more people use air conditioning—but the more people use air conditioning, the warmer it gets. Is there any way out of this trap?

Video timeline: 00:00: What’s the cooling conundrum? 01:05: The pros and cons of AC 03:28: How to reinvent air conditioning 05:02: Can buildings be redesigned to keep cool? 07:30: Scalable, affordable cooling solutions 10:24: Policy interventions for cooling

Views: What 3°C Of Global Warming Will Look Like

If global temperatures rise three degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the results would be catastrophic. It’s an entirely plausible scenario, and this film shows you what it would look like.

Video timeline: 00:00 – What will a 3°C world look like? 00:57 – Climate change is already having devastating effects 02:58 – How climate modelling works 04:06 – Nowhere is safe from global warming 05:20 – The impact of prolonged droughts 08:24 – Rising sea levels, storm surges and flooding 10:27 – Extreme heat and wet-bulb temperatures 12:51 – Increased migration and conflict 14:26 – Adaptation and mitigation are crucial

Analysis: $131 Trillion To Reduce Global Warming

Money is a sticking point in climate-change negotiations around the world. As economists warn that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will cost many more trillions than anticipated, WSJ looks at how the funds could be spent, and who would pay. Illustration: Preston Jessee/WSJ

Morning News: Climate Change Report, Business Of Trash, Olympics Review

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report on climate change this morning. It shows that warming is happening more quickly than we realized, and calls the connection between human activity and global warming “unequivocal.” It’s the strongest stance by global scientists on climate we’ve seen yet.

  • Plus, the pandemic has changed our relationship with trash.
  • And, Ina Fried’s big takeaways from covering the Olympic games.

Guests: Axios’ Andrew Freedman, Hope King, and Ina Fried.

Morning News: What A 3° Warmer World Looks Like, Sudan & Liverpool Let Go

It seems ever more certain that global temperatures will sail past limits set in the Paris Agreement. We examine what a world warmed by 3°C would—or will—look like. 

Our correspondent speaks with Sudan’s three most powerful men; will they act in concert or in conflict on the way to democracy? And why Liverpool has been booted from UNESCO’s world-heritage list

Analysis: The Future Of Geothermal Energy

Miles below the Earth’s surface, there’s enough thermal energy to power all of humanity for the foreseeable future. It’s called geothermal energy, and it’s poised to play an increasingly large role as a source of always available, renewable power. Now, there are a number of startups in the geothermal space, working to figure out how to access this heat in difficult to reach geographies, at a price point that makes sense. And it’s even gotten the attention of oil and gas industry giants, who are interested in greening their portfolios while sticking to their core competencies – extracting energy resources from deep within the Earth.