Climate Change Coming to a Century Near You

April 8, 2012 at 5:15 pm Leave a comment

Before I point to some articles from this past week, let me remind you of two events taking place at Portland State University on Monday and Tuesday evenings this week:

I plan to attend both events and can drive a limited number of Reedies to the event so let me know if you’re interested (alan@reed.edu). Climate change also popped up in last week’s Science and Nature magazines. Read this news brief ahead of the PSU event and you will be the most knowledgeable person in the room.

  • Earth Warming Faster Than Expected (ScienceNow, 25 Mar 2012) – New climate simulations conducted the University of Oxford (UK) suggest that global average temperatures in 2050 will be 1.4-3.0 C higher than the global averages measured between 1961-1990. (The ScienceNow summary contains a link to Nature GeoScience where more details can be found.)
  • Sustainable Materials: With Both Eyes Open, J.M. Allwood and J.M. Cullen (UIT Cambridge, Cambridge 2012) (reviewed in Science, 30 Mar 2012, Browsings). For all the well-deserved excitement about nanomaterials, far more stuff is made out of steel and aluminum and the production of these materials has huge environmental consequences. This new book considers the steel/aluminum problem from a number of angles.
  • Fundamentals of Materials for Energy and Environmental Sustainability, D.S. Ginley and D. Cahen (Cambridge U Press, Cambridge, 2011) (reviewed in Science, 30 Mar 2012, Browsings). A new textbook that “provides a tour of all aspects related to energy production and usage along with the development of new materials for generating, storing, and transporting energy.”
  • Bacterium in an electrochemical cell converts CO2 to fuel. (“Integrated Electromicrobial Conversion of CO2 to Higher Alcohols, H. Li et al., Science, 30 Mar 2012, p. 1596 Brevia) Wind and solar energy plants generate electricity, but only when the wind blows and the sun shines. How can electricity be stored? One solution is to use wind/solar to drive a chemical reaction, e.g., CO2 + H2O to Organic + O2, and then use the organic fuel when and where it is needed. These researchers describe how a genetically modified bacterium, Ralstonia eutropha H16, was grown in an electrochemical cell and how the bacterium used electrical current to drive the synthesis of different alcohols from CO2.
  • Don’t Let the Bees Near Your Pesticide-coated Goodies (“Field Research on Bees Raises Concern About Low-Dose Pesticides”, Science, 30 Mar 2012, p. 1555, News&Analysis) Two new studies suggest that common “systemic” pesticides may harm bees. One study on bumble bees under “seminatural” conditions suggests that exposure to a pesticide leads to a dramatic loss in queen production and colony growth. A separate study on honey bees found that exposure to a pesticide substantially reduced the chances that a foraging bee would return to the hive.
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Entry filed under: In the News, On Deck!.

The Scientific Case for Human Influence on Global Climate: Tuesday April 10, 7 PM, PSU Smith 355 Download to laptop, find sunshine, read (or take a nap)

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