tagged w/ Methane
By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger
Coal consumption has costs — this week’s explosion at a West Virginia mine, which killed 25, made that clear. Those costs aren’t limited to human lives, either. Massey Energy Co., the owner of the West Virginia mine, has not just racked up safety violations but also consistently disregarded the environmental effects of its work.
Black marks on Massey’s record
This week’s explosion is far from the first debacle associated with a Massey project, and past incidents have had disastrous impacts on the environment. In 2000, a break in a Massey-owned reservoir, filled with coal waste, caused more damage than the Exxon Valdez spill, Steve Benen writes at The Washington Monthly. Clara Bingham described the flood of sludge for the magazine in 2005:
“The gooey mixture of black water and coal tailings traveled downstream through Coldwater and Wolf creeks, and later through the river’s main stem, Tug Fork. Ten days later, an inky plume appeared in the Ohio River. On its 75-mile path of destruction, the sludge obliterated wildlife, killed 1.6 million fish, ransacked property, washed away roads and bridges, and contaminated the water systems of 27,623 people.”
A year later, another 30,000 gallons of sludge poured into a river in Madison, WV, “with nary a peep from Massey,” Kevin Connor points out at AlterNet.
The company routinely scorns environmental regulations, too, as Andy Kroll reports for Mother Jones:
“Between 2000 and 2006, Massey violated the Clean Water Act more than 4,500 times by dumping sediment and leftover mining waste into rivers in Kentucky and West Virginia, the EPA said in 2008. (Environmental groups say the EPA’s tally is a lowball figure; they estimate that the true number of violations is more than 12,000.) As a result of these breaches of the law, the company agreed to pay the EPA a $20 million settlement.”
It appears that prior spills have not chastened Massey, either. Brooke Jarvis at Yes! Magazine notes that the company stores 8.2 billion gallons of coal sludge in the same West Virginia county suffering from this week’s explosion, and that two months ago, “West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection issued a notice of violation because the dam failed to meet safety requirements.”
Don Blankenship, denier!
Massey’s owner, Don Blankenship, has as dark a record as his company on environmental issues. Blankenship believes in the “survival of the most productive,” Mike Lillis writes at The Washington Independent, which means that safety and environmental concerns come second. He “loves to slam ‘greeniacs’ for believing in things like climate change,” says Nick Baumann at Mother Jones. The Colorado Independent’s David O. Williams calls Blankenship “a notorious right-wing climate change denier and outspoken critic of the policies of ‘Obama bin Laden,’” and notes that Blankenship is on the board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has tried its hardest to squelch any climate legislation eking through Congress.
Methane and mountaintop removal
Although Massey and Blankenship stand out for their scorn of the environment, all coal production extracts a cost. Accidents and violations like Massey’s can devastate forests and streams, but coal’s biggest environmental impact comes when it is burned and pours tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. As Yes! Magazine’s Jarvis puts it, “Coal may be cheap now, but that’s simply because we’re not counting—and don’t even know how to count—the long-term costs.”
The Obama administration has taken some steps towards limiting coal production. Last week the EPA announced restrictions that would limit mountaintop removal mining. But those regulations won’t ban the practice altogether. The Senate could, in theory, take up that task: Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced a bill a year ago that would make mountaintop removal mining so expensive it would be economically infeasible, effectively banning the practice, Mike Lillis reports for The Washington Independent. Although the bill accrued a few more sponsors during 2009, mostly liberal Democrats like Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), it hasn’t attracted much attention and is still sitting in the Environment and Public Works Committee.
In the Mountain West, the Bureau of Land Management is opening up federal lands for coal mining and claiming it can’t require companies to flare off or capture methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, David O. Williams reports for The Colorado Independent. Without methane capture, the new mines would pour carbon pollution into the atmosphere. This BLM stance, Williams writes, has green advocates in Colorado “longingly reminiscing about the bygone days of the Bush administration,” which said it would require companies to manage methane.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger
Coal consumption has costs — this... more
NSF issues world a wake-up call: "Release of even a fraction of the methane stored in the shelf could trigger abrupt climate warming.”
Methane release from the not-so-perma-frost is the most dangerous amplifying feedback in the entire carbon cycle. Research published in Friday’s journal Science finds a key “lid” on “the large sub-sea permafrost carbon reservoir” near Eastern Siberia “is clearly perforated, and sedimentary CH4 [methane] is escaping to the atmosphere.”
Scientists learned last year that the "permamelt" contains a staggering “1.5 trillion tons of frozen carbon, about twice as much carbon as contained in the atmosphere,” much of which would be released as methane. Methane is is 25 times as potent a heat-trapping gas as CO2 over a 100 year time horizon, but 72 times as potent over 20 years!
The carbon is locked in a freezer in the part of the planet warming up the fastest (see “Tundra 4: Permafrost loss linked to Arctic sea ice loss“). Half the land-based permafrost would vanish by mid-century on our current emissions path (see “Tundra, Part 2: The point of no return” and below). No climate model currently incorporates the amplifying feedback from methane released by a defrosting tundra.
It is increasingly clear that if the world strays significantly above 450 ppm atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide for any length of time, we will find it unimaginably difficult to stop short of 800 to 1000 ppm.
much more at link...NSF issues world a wake-up call: "Release of even a fraction of the methane... more
Dairyman Brian Fiscalini is using innovative technology to create energy from the waste produced on his dairy.Dairyman Brian Fiscalini is using innovative technology to create energy from the... more
According to the London Guardian, scientists have recorded a massive spike in the amount of a powerful greenhouse gas seeping from Arctic permafrost. The discovery highlights the risks of a dangerous climate tipping point.According to the London Guardian, scientists have recorded a massive spike in the... more
It could be a major scientific breakthrough in the battle against climate change. Or just a touch of woolly thinking.
For scientists in Australia are homing in on an unlikely weapon to tackle greenhouse gases - the burp-free sheep.
Emissions from agriculture are the country's second largest source of greenhouse gases and environmentalists have begged farmers and scientists to find a way of reducing the problem.
Scientists are working on several means of reducing methane emissions from animals and have been encouraged by experiments involving changing the microbes in the gut, altering their diet and changing the genetics of animals.
The target is to stop the main cause of the methane problem - burping sheep.
In a world-first study, the Australian Sheep Co-operative Research Centre is conducting experiments with 700 sheep from 20 different genetic lines.
Some genetically-mixed groups are being fed the same foods, while other animals are being fed a variety of menus before they are shepherded into pens so their burp outputs can be measured.
Research leader Dr Roger Hegarty said: 'What we do know right from the start is that sheep in general burp large amounts of methane.
'There's been environmental pressure to see if this can be cut down.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1243947/Putting-baa-burping-sheep-battle-climate-change.html#ixzz0cx981MRaIt could be a major scientific breakthrough in the battle against climate change. Or... more
Scientists have recorded a massive spike in the amount of a powerful greenhouse gas seeping from Arctic permafrost, in a discovery that highlights the risks of a dangerous climate tipping point.
Experts say methane emissions from the Arctic have risen by almost one-third in just five years, and that sharply rising temperatures are to blame.
The discovery follows a string of reports from the region in recent years that previously frozen boggy soils are melting and releasing methane in greater quantities. Such Arctic soils currently lock away billions of tonnes of methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, leading some scientists to describe melting permafrost as a ticking time bomb that could overwhelm efforts to tackle climate change.
Paul Palmer, a scientist at Edinburgh University who worked on the new study, said: "High latitude wetlands are currently only a small source of methane but for these emissions to increase by a third in just five years is very significant. It shows that even a relatively small amount of warming can cause a large increase in the amount of methane emissions."
Palmer said: "This study does not show the Arctic has passed a tipping point, but it should open people's eyes. It shows there is a positive feedback and that higher temperatures bring higher emissions and faster warming."
The new study, published in the journal Science, shows that methane emissions from the Arctic increased by 31% from 2003-07. The increase represents about 1m extra tonnes of methane each year. Palmer cautioned that the five-year increase was too short to call a definitive trend.
The new study follows repeated warnings that even modest levels of global warming could trigger huge increases in methane release from permafrost. Phillipe Ciais, a researcher with the Laboratory for Climate Sciences and the Environment in Gif-sur-Yvette, France, told a scientific meeting in Copenhagen last March that billions of tonnes could be released by just a 2C average global rise.Scientists have recorded a massive spike in the amount of a powerful greenhouse gas... more
A landfill is not the place you would expect to find a source of clean energy. But landfill gas is a reliable, renewable energy source that improves the environment. The Puente Hills Landfill receives an average of 12,000 tons of non-hazardous solid waste per day and produces over 30,000 cfm of landfill gas. The majority of the gas is collected and used as a fuel to produce approximately 50 megawatts of power at the Puente Hills Gas-to-Energy Facility.
Music composed by my friend Herman Steyn.A landfill is not the place you would expect to find a source of clean energy. But... more
Scientists have uncovered what appears to be a further dramatic increase in the leakage of methane gas that is seeping from the Arctic seabed.
Methane is about 20 times more potent than CO2 in trapping solar heat.
The findings come from measurements of carbon fluxes around the north of Russia, led by Igor Semiletov from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.
"Methane release from the East Siberian Shelf is underway and it looks stronger than it was supposed [to be]," he said.
Professor Semiletov has been studying methane seepage in the region for the last few decades, and leads the International Siberian Shelf Study (ISSS), which has launched multiple expeditions to the Arctic Ocean.
The preliminary findings of ISSS 2009 are now being prepared for publication, he told BBC News.
Methane seepage recorded last summer was already the highest ever measured in the Arctic Ocean.
Acting as a giant frozen depository of carbon such as CO2 and methane (often stored as compacted solid gas hydrates), Siberia's shallow shelf areas are increasingly subjected to warming and are now giving up greater amounts of methane to the sea and to the atmosphere than recorded in the past.
Methane gas is trapped inside a crystal structure of water-ice
The gas is released when the ice melts, normally at 0C
At higher pressure, ie under the ocean, hydrates are stable at higher temperatures
This undersea permafrost was until recently considered to be stable.
But now scientists think the release of such a powerful greenhouse gas may accelerate global warming.
Higher concentrations of atmospheric methane are contributing to global temperature rise; this in turn is projected to cause further permafrost melting and the release of yet more methane in a feedback loop.
A worst-case scenario is one where the feedback passes a tipping point and billions of tonnes of methane are released suddenly, as has occurred at least once in the Earth's past.
Such sudden releases have been linked to rapid increases in global temperatures and could have been a factor in the mass extinction of species.
According to a report by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), the springtime air temperature across the region in the period 2000-2007 was an average of 4C higher than during 1970-1999.
That is the fastest temperature rise on the planet, claims the university.
The recent thaw over the last decade means that some of the large reserve of carbon from organic material such as dead animals and plants in sediments is now being released into the sea and into our atmosphere.
Trapped below that is the methane hydrate now warming and leaking through holes in the defrosting sediments.Scientists have uncovered what appears to be a further dramatic increase in the... more
Ultimately, was drawn a non-binding agreement at the eleventh hour, after days of bickering and inconclusive discussions and police repression against the demonstrators asking politicians to do something. But it's a deal virtually useless, made only to save face after a night of long negotiations, and avoiding to close with a failure the Copenhagen summit on climate change.
http://www.inaltreparole.net/en/nature/copenhagenaccordo191209.htmlUltimately, was drawn a non-binding agreement at the eleventh hour, after days of... more
It's starting the Copenhagen conference on climate change and the hope is that the world will be able to reach an agreement to stop global warming. Although the U.S. and China have already expressed their intentions to reduce emissions but without binding commitments immediately, in the world there are increasing efforts to push world leaders to do something. On december 7, 56 newspapers published in 45 different countries have published the same editorial to ask for concrete initiatives.
http://www.inaltreparole.net/en/nature/copenhagenplanet071209.htmlIt's starting the Copenhagen conference on climate change and the hope is that... more
Swift action on other greenhouse agents could solve the “fast half” of the climate problem, researchers say.
AbstractFull Text HTMLHi-Res PDF[2037 KB]PDF w/ Links[86 KB]Noreen Parks
Environ. Sci. Technol., Article ASAP
Publication Date (Web): November 18, 2009
Copyright © 2009 American Chemical Society
Aggressively reducing emissions of non-CO2 climate drivers could forestall abrupt climate change for up to 40 years, according to a recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2009, DOI 10.1073/pnas.0902568106). Without such efforts, even drastic cuts to CO2 emissions will fail to put the brakes on planetary warming soon enough to avoid climate tipping points, the authors warn.
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), black carbon (soot), ground-level ozone, and methane together represent an estimated 40−50% of the warming caused by human activities. “We’re on track for a 2 °C warming that will put us in the danger zone, and current research shows it’s coming faster than anticipated,” says study coauthor Durwood Zaelke of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. “Restricting CO2 emissions is absolutely critical, but it won’t be enough. So the question is how quickly we can deliver cooling on the non-CO2 side.”
Implementing “fast-action” mitigation strategies based on available technologies would jump-start this effort, the researchers say. One key step would be to phase down the production and use of HFCs, which are now known to act as long-lasting greenhouse gases. Use of HFCs has been growing because of the rising demand for air-conditioning and refrigeration in developing countries. Current projections indicate that by mid-century the impact of HFCs on the climate could be approximately 20% of that from CO2 emissions, if the current trends continue unabated. “The Montreal Protocol (MP) has already delayed climate change by 7−12 years,” lead author Mario Molina of the University of California San Diego noted in a prepared statement. “We have to take advantage of the proven ability of this legally binding treaty to quickly phase down HFCs.” North American leaders recently submitted a proposal to start this process for consideration at the MP annual meeting in November.
Soot now ranks as the second or third biggest contributor to climate change. However, soot’s short life span offers opportunities for comparatively quick fixes—such as particulate filters for vehicles and clean-burning or solar-powered stoves—that could yield significant climate savings, the authors say. Likewise, the means for slashing levels of ozone precursors such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides are within reach. Research shows that rigorous enforcement of air-pollution technologies and regulations could cut these emissions by more than half, dramatically decreasing tropospheric ozone. “We know how to curb air pollution; we just need to do it better and faster, and get the solutions applied in developing countries. We can borrow from and utilize working international agreements to do this,” Zaelke emphasizes.
Comparing the overall greenhouse contributions of climate drivers reveals only part of their potential for limiting global warming, Michael MacCracken of the Climate Institute noted in a recent paper. Also critical are their atmospheric lifetimes, which range from centuries to millennia for CO2 and HFCs and from days to weeks for black carbon. “Steep, immediate reductions in soot would eliminate its warming influence over the entire 21st century,” he explains. Similarly, swift cutbacks in emissions of methane and ozone-producing pollutants would yield sharp and enduring declines in their warming influence.
Because much of the non-CO2 pollution originates in developing countries, those nations can play a substantial role in combating climate change, MacCracken stresses. “We don’t want climate negotiations to fail because we can’t get agreement on everyone cutting CO2 emissions immediately. Developing nations can do a lot to offset their ongoing CO2 output by going after these other pollutants—at the same time improving public health and energy efficiency. This would allow for their continued development, while cost-effective, climate-friendly energy technologies evolve, and demonstrate the necessary commitment from all nations while recognizing the equity imbalance created by very different per capita emissions.”
The study is intended as a call to action, Zaelke says. “Speed matters. We have to move forward on all fronts now, using existing governance structures, without waiting for a climate treaty to get started. We need optimism and energy to solve this problem, and these fast-action strategies can help provide more confidence that we can do it.”Swift action on other greenhouse agents could solve the “fast half” of the... more
Move over CO2youve been ousted, along with methane, as the biggest offenders of global climate change. According to a new a study by Purdue University and NASA, the major chemicals most frequently cited as leading to climate change, namely carbon dioxide and methane, are actually outclassed in their warming potential by compounds receiving less attention. The majority of greenhouse gases are created by humans.Move over CO2youve been ousted, along with methane, as the biggest offenders of global... more
SHOCKING NEW NASA DATA / NEW PREDICTION = "3 TO 5 YEARS NO ICE IN ARCTIC"
THE PERMAFROST = IS NOW THAWING....
3-5 years All Arctic Ice will be gone. Five years after that... no ice on either pole!
Watch Video as prehistoric methane gas is released under the ice from the thawing permafrost below is ignited.
NEW DATA: The original time to reach the permafrost thawing tipping point wasn't predicted to happen until 2050.
We need to understand what is happening and how the effects of what is now taking place... will change all our lives in the "months and few years ahead".SHOCKING NEW NASA DATA / NEW PREDICTION = "3 TO 5 YEARS NO ICE IN ARCTIC"... more
Global warming... is much worse that you think.
PLEASE SELECT: "WATCH FULL PROGRAM"
Dan Miller's presentation focuses on why the UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports are actually best case scenarios. For example, IPCC climate models do not include the effect of melting permafrost releasing greenhouse gases, even though the permafrost is melting now and it holds more greenhouse gases than all that mankind has ever released.
Another example is that IPCC predictions of sea level rise only take into account thermal expansion of the oceans and melting of glaciers; the largest factor, disintegration of glaciers, was not included because it is hard to model. The result is that sea level rise will likely be substantially higher this century than the IPCC predicts.
Miller discusses several other potential catastrophes that are not included in IPCC predictions and also discusses tipping points that could put climate change solutions out of our reach in years or decades, the psychology of climate change, and why it is difficult for people to respond to the threat posed by a warming earth.
His talk concludes with a discussion of ways to address climate change and the risks and opportunities that companies face due to the climate crisis.
The Climate Project
NASA | Earth Observatory
NASA | Science for a Hungry World: Part 6
HOME PROJECT: A Visual Global Tour /current effects of global warming.
.Global warming... is much worse that you think.
PLEASE SELECT: "WATCH FULL... more
There are many ways we could prevent global warming, or climate change. This sketch is about the method we should avoid at all costs. Taken from our twenty minute comedy sketch show pilot 'Chocolate Moon'. The show was made by young filmmakers in Merseyside, England. The show includes several sketches with pop culture references, including Saw, the Pope and Hollyoaks. Influences include Big Train and Monty Python.There are many ways we could prevent global warming, or climate change. This sketch is... more
Concerned to avert global disaster, the pressure group Climate Campers meet in the park to discuss radical solutions which include holding your breath to offset your carbon footprint. Will this prove to be too little too late, or does every little help?Concerned to avert global disaster, the pressure group Climate Campers meet in the... more
A shepherd said he saw his flock "burn and completely disappear" after he let them wander into a rocky depression to search for grass.
This freak incident as caused by the explosion of an underground methane gas leak. This also led people to fear that a volcanic eruption or earthquake would follow.
Freaky.A shepherd said he saw his flock "burn and completely disappear" after he... more