Numbers: Global carbon emissions at record levels with no signs of shrinking

Read the full story at The Wire.

Global carbon dioxide emissions from all human activities remain at record highs in 2022, and fossil fuel emissions have risen above pre-pandemic levels, according to a new analysis by an international body of scientists.

The analysis, by the Global Carbon Project, calculates Earth’s carbon budget, which is how much carbon dioxide humans have released, and how much has been removed from the atmosphere by the oceans and land ecosystems. From there, we calculate how much carbon can still be emitted into the atmosphere before Earth exceeds the crucial 1.5℃ global warming threshold.

Coal in Net Zero Transitions: Strategies for rapid, secure and people-centred change

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Coal and its emissions are a critical issue as the world contends with both the global energy crisis and the climate crisis. Coal in Net Zero Transitions: Strategies for rapid, secure and people-centred change is a new IEA special report in the World Energy Outlook series. It presents pragmatic, real-world guidance on how policymakers can achieve a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from coal without harming economies or energy security, outlining measures to finance energy transitions and address their social and employment aspects.

All long-term IEA scenarios that meet international climate goals feature a rapid decline in global coal emissions. Without this, it will be impossible to avoid severe impacts from a changing climate. However, the world is currently far from heading decisively in this direction. Renewable energy options are the most cost-effective new sources of electricity generation in most markets, but there are still multiple challenges in reducing emissions from the existing global fleet of coal-fired power plants.

This special report explores the options for the power sector and other parts of the economy where coal plays a notable role. It examines a range of policy and technology areas, including the potential for carbon capture, utilisation and storage. And it addresses investment and financing needs, taking into account the importance of ensuring reliable and affordable energy supplies and of tackling the social consequences of change.

As climate warms, a China planner advocates “sponge cities”

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

To cushion the impact of extreme weather due to climate change, a Chinese landscape architect has been making the case for China and other countries to create so-called “sponge cities.”

Yu Kongjian, who spoke to The Associated Press in Beijing, uses sweeping language to express his vision for cities that can withstand variable temperatures, drought and heavy rainfall. The challenges for implementing this vision at a time of ambitious economic development in China are multifold.

Yu criticizes much of Asia’s modern infrastructure for being built on ideas imported from Europe, which he says are ill-fitted to the monsoon climate over much of the Asian continent. He points to recent floods that have wreaked havoc in many Asian cities, which he says are caused by this architectural mismatch.

Methane emissions from 15 meat and dairy companies rival those of the EU

Read the full story in The Guardian.

The combined methane emissions of 15 of the world’s largest meat and dairy companies are higher than those of several of the world’s largest countries, including Russia, Canada and Australia, according to a new study.

The analysis from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and Changing Markets Foundation found that emissions by the companies – five meat and 10 dairy corporations – equate to more than 80% of the European Union’s entire methane footprint and account for 11.1% of the world’s livestock-related methane emissions.

Colorado’s State Wildlife Action Plan conservation dashboards

Colorado’s State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) is a blueprint for conservation and provides a catalog of Colorado Parks & Wildlife’s knowledge about native wildlife and plants, threats to the habitats on which they depend, and strategies to lessen, mitigate, or manage those threats.

These conservation dashboards offer multiple lenses through which to view SWAP priority species, identified threats, and conservation actions. Explore by individual species, groups of species, actions, or threats.

ERI brings expanded professional development opportunities to K-12 educators

Read the full story from Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute.

To help Indiana K-12 teachers better teach climate and environmental science in the classroom and meet new state science standards, Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute (ERI) is offering expanded professional development opportunities, including single-day and multi-day workshops and greater access to teaching resources and IU scientists.

The offerings are part of Educating for Environmental Change (EfEC), a collaboration between ERI, IU faculty, K-12 educators, and the WonderLab Museum of Science, Health, and Technology. Expanded programming in 2022-23 is made possible by two anonymous donors and the IU Center for Rural Engagement.

Easing pain at the pump with discarded food

Read the full story from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

With gas prices soaring and food costs pinching family budgets, an interdisciplinary team of researchers at WPI is looking at ways to use food waste to make a renewable and more affordable fuel replacement for oil-based diesel. The work, led by Chemical Engineering Professor Michael Timko, is detailed in a new paper in the journal iScience.

Amazon took all U.S. solar rooftops offline last year after flurry of fires, electrical explosions

Read the full story from CNBC.

Between April 2020 and June 2021, solar panels atop Amazon fulfillment centers caught fire or experienced electrical explosions at least six different times.

“The rate of dangerous incidents is unacceptable, and above industry averages,” an Amazon employee wrote in an internal report viewed by CNBC.

Rooftop solar is part of Amazon’s broad plan to zero out emissions by 2040.

Artificial intelligence can be used to better monitor Maine’s forests, UMaine study finds

Read the full story from the University of Maine.

Monitoring and measuring forest ecosystems is a complex challenge because of an existing combination of softwares, collection systems and computing environments that require increasing amounts of energy to power. The University of Maine’s Wireless Sensor Networks (WiSe-Net) laboratory has developed a novel method of using artificial intelligence and machine learning to make monitoring soil moisture more energy and cost efficient — one that could be used to make measuring more efficient across the broad forest ecosystems of Maine and beyond.

Soil moisture is an important variable in forested and agricultural ecosystems alike, particularly under the recent drought conditions of past Maine summers. Despite the robust soil moisture monitoring networks and large, freely available databases, the cost of commercial soil moisture sensors and the power that they use to run can be prohibitive for researchers, foresters, farmers and others tracking the health of the land.

Along with researchers at the University of New Hampshire and University of Vermont, UMaine’s WiSe-Net designed a wireless sensor network that uses artificial intelligence to learn how to be more power efficient in monitoring soil moisture and processing the data. The research was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation

Energy-insecure households sometimes use risky coping strategies to keep lights, heat on

Read the full story from Indiana University.

More than half of all low-income households engaged in coping strategies to reduce their energy bills, according to a study from researchers at the Indiana University Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. The coping strategies, such as accruing debt, forgoing expenses on food, and using space heaters or ovens to warm their home, can introduce significant physical and financial risks.

The research could have direct implications for public policy improvements, including modifications to the U.S. Weatherization Assistance Program, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program and state utility disconnection protections.

The article, “Behavioral and financial coping strategies among energy-insecure households,” was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It was written by professor Sanya Carley, Lynton K. Caldwell Professor David Konisky and Ph.D. candidate Trevor Memmott, all in the O’Neill School, and Cleveland State assistant professor Michelle Graff, a former grad student of Carley and Konisky.