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Greenhouse Emissions Drop Less During Economic Downturn Than Expected 87

An anonymous reader writes with a quick bite from Nature World News: "The contribution of economic decline in reducing greenhouse gas emissions is very low, reveals a new study. Researcher Richard York of the University of Oregon studied data collected between 1960 and 2008 from more than 150 nations in order to analyze the impact of economic decline on greenhouse gas emissions." From the paper: "In Model 2, the percentage of the population living in urban areas and the percentage of GDP from the manufacturing sector were included as control variables. This model has lower data coverage than Model 1 (154 versus 160 nations, and 4,134 versus 5,630 nation-year observations) owing to missing data on the control variables. The coefficients, at 0.752 for growth and 0.346 for decline, are similar to those from Model 1 and, as in Model 1, are both significantly different from 0 and significantly different from each other."

Is There Still a Ray of Hope On Climate Change? 462

Hugh Pickens writes "David Leonhardt writes in the NY Times that even as the U.S. endures its warmest year on record (the 13 warmest years for the entire planet have all occurred since 1998), the country seems to be moving further away from doing something about climate change, with the issue having all but fallen out of the national debate. But behind the scenes, a different story is emerging that offers reason for optimism: the world's largest economies may be in the process of creating a climate-change response that does not depend on the politically painful process of raising the price of dirty energy. Despite some high-profile flops, like ethanol and Solyndra, clean-energy investments seem to be succeeding more than they are failing. 'The price of solar and wind power have both fallen sharply in the last few years. This country's largest wind farm, sprawling across eastern Oregon, is scheduled to open next month. Already, the world uses vastly more alternative energy than experts predicted only a decade ago,' writes Leonhardt. Natural gas, the use of which has jumped 25 percent since 2008 while prices have fallen more than 80 percent, now generates as much electricity as coal in the United States, which would have been unthinkable not long ago. Thanks in part to earlier government investments, energy companies have been able to extract much more natural gas than once seemed possible which, while far from perfectly clean, is less carbon-intensive than coal use. The clean-energy push has been successful enough to leave many climate advocates believing it is the single best hope for preventing even hotter summers, concludes Leonhardt, adding that while a cap-and-trade program faces an uphill political battle, an investment program that aims to make alternative energy less expensive is more politically feasible. 'Our best hope,' says Benjamin H. Strauss, 'is some kind of disruptive technology that takes off on its own, the way the Internet and the fax took off.'"

NASA Satellite Measurements Show Unprecedented Greenland Ice Sheet Melt 411

NASA reports that measurements taken from orbiting satellites indicate the Greenland ice sheet underwent melting over a larger area than they've seen in 30 years of observations. On July 8, the satellites found evidence that about 40% of the ice sheet's surface had melted. Observations just four days later showed 97% of the surface had melted. "This extreme melt event coincided with an unusually strong ridge of warm air, or a heat dome, over Greenland. The ridge was one of a series that has dominated Greenland's weather since the end of May. 'Each successive ridge has been stronger than the previous one,' said Mote. This latest heat dome started to move over Greenland on July 8, and then parked itself over the ice sheet about three days later. By July 16, it had begun to dissipate. Even the area around Summit Station in central Greenland, which at 2 miles above sea level is near the highest point of the ice sheet, showed signs of melting. Such pronounced melting at Summit and across the ice sheet has not occurred since 1889, according to ice cores analyzed by Kaitlin Keegan at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather station at Summit confirmed air temperatures hovered above or within a degree of freezing for several hours July 11-12." Photos also surfaced last week showing the Petermann Glacier in Greenland 'calving' — some very large chunks of it broke off and started to drift away.
United States

Bill Joy For New National CTO Post? 393

jddeluxe writes "In an article in today's NY Times, John Doerr of Kleiner-Perkins proffered up Bill Joy's name when queried by Barack Obama for a recommendation for the position of Chief Technology Officer of the Unites States which Obama has promised to create and that the country is overdue to have. I think that's a brilliant idea, and while you're at it, have the FCC report to him as well, why don't you?" If Bill is unavailable, I'll throw my hat in the ring, although I'm holding out for Secretary of Tubes.

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