This New York Times editorial urges soon-to-be-President Obama not to rely solely on technological breakthroughs to address the necessary restructuring of America’s energy systems. In addition, the Times argues, the Obama administration should strive to make existing technologies more efficient. The U.S. does not use energy efficiently, spewing more carbon dioxide into the air than 75 of 107 countries tracked by the International Energy Agency. Whether in households, businesses, transportation, or in electricity production, the U.S. ranks among the highest in emissions and lowest in energy efficiency. Most of the carbon abatement needed by 2030 could come from existing technologies, such as home insulation and fuel efficiency.
Wind energy is taking a major hit these days from the financial crisis. No, the wind hasn’t ceased to blow, it’s just that the money is running out. Layoffs have begun — so much for that chunk of green jobs. Wind start-ups in 2009 are expected to be only half of what they were in 2008. The wind turbine industry is waiting to learn the dettails of the new administration’s stimulus plan, which is reported to have green job and alternative energy research components.
Carbon dioxide emissions affect the oceans as well as the atmosphere. Increasing the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the oceans, combined with the warming of the water, will limit the amount of oxygen available at the surface and cause oxygen-poor areas in the deep water to expand. This lack of oxygen will affect larger sea creatures, such as squid. According to a new study, researchers found that under conditions of increased CO2, squid’s metabolic and activity rates slowed significantly. In the future, without sufficient oxygen, the squid would change their hunting and migratory patterns, which could potentially disrupt marine food chains.
A new report from scientists at the Australian Institute of Marine Science has found that coral growth in the Great Barrier Reef has declined to it’s slowest rate in the past 400 years. Contributing to the decline of the growth rate of coral are global warming and the increasing acidity of seawater. The destruction of coral threatens many marine organisms, as the reefs are central and key components of the ecosystems and food webs.
The globe’s ice is melting faster and faster. About 2 trillion tons of ice have melted in Greenland, Antarctica and Alaska since 2003. That’s enough to fill the Chesapeake Bay 21 times. Find a map of the mid-Atlantic states to see just how much ice that is. The melting ice from Greenland alone causes sea levels to rise by .5 mm each year. As gaciers melt, they reflect less sunlight and absorb more heat, melting more ice more rapidly and warming Arctic waters and the atmosphere.