Archive by date | September 2008

Methane, it’s a gas

Methane, it's a gas

If carbon dioxide is trump, then methane is the joker in the greenhouse game. The flammable gas (CH4) is produced in wetlands, landfills and in the guts of cattle and sheep, and it is stored in vast amounts in so-called clathrates, or gas hydrates, in the ocean floor.  Read more

The difficulties of going pro-nuclear

The difficulties of going pro-nuclear

Mark Lynas, whose Six Degrees (Amazon UK | US) has been a great success, had a piece in the New Statesman last week about nuclear power. It was a pretty standard, pretty well executed I’m-a-green-who’s-much-more-freaked-out-about-climate-than-about-nukes piece, much in the long travelled Lovelock vein, not that unlike some things George Monbiot has recently been writing. As such it obviously…

Could tipping happen any time soon?

I wrote here yesterday that ‘I don’t think that anyone knows for sure how close we are to reaching tipping points in the climate system’. As it so happens, a pair of articles published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week illustrates this point nicely.  Read more

Annual carbon budget: We’re all doomed

Annual carbon budget: We're all doomed

Cross posted from The Great Beyond The latest global carbon budget numbers are just out, and they make interesting, if slightly depressing, reading. (Global Carbon Project site – will be updated at midnight) Most striking is that, despite years of effort, carbon dioxide emissions are increasing at an alarming rate of 3.5% a year– faster than the 2.7% predicted by the IPCC in their worst case scenario, and miles ahead of the 0.9% annual rise in the 1990s. Worst still, current measures have been based on a middle-ground IPCC scenario. Pep Candell from the Global Carbon Budget told me that  … Read more

Wake up, freak out – then get a grip

Wake up, freak out – then get a grip

A little something for those who find the escalating financial crisis overshadowing the somewhat less imminent threat of climate change. Check out this new 10-minute animation on climate tipping points by Plane Stupid activist Leo Murray, entitled ‘Wake up, freak out – then get a grip’. It may be animation, but light entertainment it isn’t. Imaginatively illustrated and extensively referenced, this short piece by Murray, who narrates the story as an animated stick figure, takes us through a worst-case scenario of future climate change – from mass species extinctions all the way to famine and war. It’s worth seeing for  … Read more

Snakes on a wave

Snakes on a wave

When Nature (subscription) looked over the whole portfolio of carbon-free electricity options last month, it left wave power for last. In contrast to mature technologies like hydropower and up-and-coming ones like solar, most ideas for capturing the energy of pounding surf “remain firmly in the testing phase”, they wrote.  Read more

Damn, a trillion dollars would have come in handy

Commuting in this morning on the boat, I was struck by a Guardian article on a new McKinsey report (pdf) about carbon capture and storage:

The study shows that such plants could be economically viable by 2030 at the latest. But it would require substantial public subsidies to get 10-12 plants running by the EU target date of 2015…McKinsey said that, with coal still likely to make up 60% of EU power generation by 2030, CCS could be a vital solution to ensuring security of energy supply and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It could reduce emissions by 400m tonnes a year by 2030, or a fifth of planned European savings.