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4. What's So Special About CO2?

Archive of Past Articles for Chapter 4

2008 Nov 5. Dried Mushrooms Slow Climate Warming In Northern Forests. ScienceDaily. Excerpt: The fight against climate warming has an unexpected ally in mushrooms growing in dry spruce forests covering Alaska, Canada, Scandinavia and other northern regions, a new UC Irvine study finds. When soil in these forests is warmed, fungi that feed on dead plant material dry out and produce significantly less climate-warming carbon dioxide than fungi in cooler, wetter soil. This came as a surprise to scientists, who expected warmer soil to emit larger amounts of carbon dioxide because extreme cold is believed to slow down the process by which fungi convert soil carbon into carbon dioxide.
Knowing how forests cycle carbon is crucial to accurately predicting global climate warming, which in turn guides public policy to curb greenhouse gas emissions. This is especially important in northern forests, which contain an estimated 30 percent of the Earth's soil carbon, equivalent to the amount of atmospheric carbon.
"We don't get a vicious cycle of warming in dry, boreal forests. Instead, we get the reverse, where warming actually prevents further warming from occurring," said Steven Allison, ecology and evolutionary biology assistant professor and lead author of the study. "The Earth's natural processes could give us some time to implement responsible policies to counteract warming globally."....

27 November 2007. Can baking soda curb global warming? New York Times Online (*requires registration). Michael Kanellos, for News.com. Excerpt: Some scientists have proposed compressing carbon dioxide and sticking it in underground caves as a way to cut down on greenhouse gases. Joe David Jones wants to make baking soda out of it. Jones, the founder and CEO of Skyonic, has come up with an industrial process called SkyMine that captures 90 percent of the carbon dioxide coming out of smoke stacks and mixes it with sodium hydroxide to make sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda. The energy required for the reaction to turn the chemicals into baking soda comes from the waste heat from the factory.
"It is cleaner than food-grade (baking soda)," he said.
The system also removes 97 percent of the heavy metals, as well as most of the sulfur and nitrogen compounds, Jones said.
Luminant, a utility formerly known as TXU, installed a pilot version of the system at its Big Brown Steam Electric Station in Fairfield, Texas, last year. Skyonic, meanwhile, hopes to install a system that will consume the greenhouse gas output of a large--500 megawatts or so--power plant around 2009. Skyonic is currently designing one of these large systems.
...Because it's a solid, storing baking soda is simply easier, and it allows greenhouse gas emitters to store a lot of carbon in one place. The stuff piles up: A 500-megawatt power plant will produce approximately 338,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year. Multiply that weight by 1.9 and you get the number of tons of baking soda that the plant will produce. Still, it can be sold, stored in containers, used for landfill or buried in abandoned mines.
"If you can use the waste heat, it strikes me as a potentially feasible approach," said Alex Farrell, an assistant professor in the energy and resources group at the University of California at Berkeley. "I'm not willing to throw any of the ideas out yet."....

16 May 2007. Climate change: A guide for the perplexed. NewScientist.com news service. Michael Le Page. Excerpt: Our planet's climate is anything but simple. All kinds of factors influence it, from massive events on the Sun to the growth of microscopic creatures in the oceans, and there are subtle interactions between many of
these factors. Yet despite all the complexities, a firm and ever-growing body of evidence points to a clear picture: the world is warming, this warming is due to human activity increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and if emissions continue unabated the warming will too, with increasingly serious consequences.Yes, there are still big uncertainties in some predictions, but these swing both ways. For example, the response of clouds could slow the
warming or speed it up. With so much at stake, it is right that climate science is subjected to the most intense scrutiny. What does not help is for the real issues to be muddied by discredited arguments or wild theories. So for those who are not sure what to believe, here is our round-up of the 26 most common climate myths and misconceptions.

11 April 2007. Greenhouse Gas Study: 1 Percent From NYC. By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. Excerpt: NEW YORK (AP) -- New York City produces nearly 1 percent of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions -- an amount that puts it on par with Ireland and Portugal -- according to a city study. ...The study found that the buildings, subways, buses, cars and decomposition of waste in America's most populous city produced a net emission of 58.3 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2005. The U.S. total was 7.26 billion metric tons for that year. ...The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations network of 2,000 scientists, warned last week of possible catastrophic risks such as floods, disease, food shortages, species extinction and human suffering throughout the world....

4 March 2004. RELEASE: 04-081. NASA Research Shows Heavy Smoke "Chokes" Clouds. Using data from NASA's Aqua satellite, agency scientists found heavy smoke from burning vegetation inhibits cloud formation. The research suggests the cooling of global climate by pollutant particles, called "aerosols," may be smaller than previously estimated.

Electromagnetic Pasta. Using different types of pasta (spaghetti, linguini, cappellini, fettucini, lasagne, orzo, macaroni, rigatoni, manicotti, ziti, etc), create a combined model/display as analogies to explain the principal classification of the electromagnetic spectrum.

All About Atoms http://education.jlab.org/atomtour/ -- help in understanding the atom.

The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change -- http://www.co2science.org/ -- was created to disseminate factual reports and sound commentary on new developments in the world-wide scientific quest to determine the climatic and biological consequences of the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content.

Biomass Burning -- Biomass burning is the burning of living and dead vegetation, including both human-initiated burning for land clearing, and burning induced by lightning and other natural sources. Researchers with the Biomass Burning Project at NASA Langley Research Center are seeking to understand the impact that biomass burning has on the Earth's atmosphere and climate.

Archive of Past Articles for Chapter 4

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GSS Climate Change Up-To-Date Homepage

Chapters

  1. What is the Greenhouse Effect?
  2. What is Global Warming?
  3. What is the Controversy About?
  4. What's So Special About CO2?
  5. How Can We Measure Carbon Dioxide?
  6. Is the Atmosphere Really Changing?
  7. What are the Greenhouse Gases?
  8. What are the Governments Doing about Climate Change?
  9. What do you think about Global Climate Change

 

Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC), Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Has sections on how oceans and vegetation act as carbon sinks, the quantification of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, and the vulnerability of coastal areas to rising sea level. The "Frequently Asked Global Change Questions" section is especially useful. Find answers to questions relating to the atmospheric lifetime of carbon dioxide and methane, numerical estimates for sources and sinks of carbon, and greenhouse gas atmospheric residency times.

Tacoma Bridge Narrows, Movie of catastrophic failure of Tacoma Narrows bridge due to resonance issues coupling bridge structure with forces due to wind. Also found on Nova Online and available for purchase here,

Climate Change Education.org

 

 

   

 

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