mufflers after bush

carbon emissions

Purdue researchers have shrunken that “big blunt tool” of generalized carbon anxiety in this age of pending carbon regulation and forged a fine, sharp “scalpel” to ID CO2 emissions.

Bush may want to set a course for the eye of Global Warming’s tempest by waiting until 2025 to level out our national release of greenhouse gases, but whoever replaces him (is there any way to bump these election up a few months?) will likely take a much more aggressive approach. Thankfully, when they do, the science BushTeam has suppressed is standing by with clean solutions on the ready.

Both San Antonio and Bexar County have agreed to start cataloging their greenhouse gas emissions. That’s the first step. Next we we will have to search for ways to cut those emissions.

With researchers now suggesting that the predictions of the IPCC on climate change were understated, this is no time to dawdle.

Climate change expert Nicholas Stern says he under-estimated the threat from global warming in a major report 18 months ago when he compared the economic risk to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Latest climate science showed global emissions of planet-heating gases were rising faster and upsetting the climate more than previously thought, Stern said in a Reuters interview on Wednesday.

For example, evidence was growing that the planet’s oceans — an important “sink” — were increasingly saturated and couldn’t absorb as much as previously of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2), he said.

“Emissions are growing much faster than we’d thought, the absorptive capacity of the planet is less than we’d thought, the risks of greenhouse gases are potentially bigger than more cautious estimates, and the speed of climate change seems to be faster,” he told Reuters at a conference in London.

So we are talking about hotter temps and higher seas than have been predicted. With SA’s city-owned utility, we are technically able to launch a solar/efficiency energy revolution even without state or federal support (though we’re happy to take those DOE dollars for solar expansion, thank you very much!), though we’ll have to strip them of, say, $216 million they want committed to unspecific nuclear design and study options.

As the Public Utility Commission wrestles with implementing solar regs that could transform our state energy economy, already the largest in wind energy production, the state also could be taking major steps in refining our transportation priorities by setting its own auto emissions standards akin to California and making it more attraction to live in city centers and along existing or desired public transportation routes.

So back to Purdue. What the researchers have done is increased our ability to see carbon emissions by 100 times — from month-to-month data to hourly representations — and placed that information in a hi-rez interactive map.

To create the Vulcan maps, the research team developed a method to extract the CO2 information by transforming data on local air pollution, such as carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide emissions, which are tracked by the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy and other governmental agencies.

“These pollutants are important to determine the ozone levels and air quality in major cities, and they are tracked on an hourly basis,” Gurney says. “We’ve been able to leverage that data to determine the levels of CO2 being produced.”

Carbon dioxide is the most important human-produced gas contributing to global climate change. The United States accounts for about 25 percent of global CO2 emissions.

The increased detail and accuracy of Vulcan will help lawmakers create policies to reduce CO2 emissions while also increasing scientists’ understanding of the sources and fate of carbon dioxide, researchers say.

“Before now the only thing policy-makers could do was take a big blunt tool and bang the U.S. economy with it,” Gurney says. “Now we have more quantifiable information about what is happening in neighborhoods, on roads and in industrial areas, and track the CO2 by the hour. This offers policy-makers something akin to a scalpel instead.”

Gurney says the inventory system, which is named for the Roman god of fire, quantifies all of the CO2 that results from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and gasoline. It also tracks the hourly outputs at the level of factories, power plants, roadways, neighborhoods and commercial districts.

If you share even a portion of my science geekiness, you’ll enjoy watching the Vulcan shew on YouTube:

Meanwhile, NRG’s coal power interests have been bullied back by local eco’s:

Plans for a new NRG coal-fired power plant in Limestone County, Texas have been dealt a significant setback. The Texas state administrative law judges (ALJs) conducting the contested permit proceeding over the proposed air pollution control permit for the coal plant have put the proceeding on hold. Their action came in response to a motion filed by attorneys of the Environmental Integrity Project on behalf of Sierra Club, Environmental Defense, and a local citizens group called Robertson County: Our Land, Our Lives.

A spokesperson for the Sierra Club called the action by the ALJs “a victory for public health” because it requires the proposed plant operator to do a careful analysis of what pollution controls on the coal plant are necessary to limit emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants before the contested permit proceeding may be resumed.

district 9, RoweThose fighting CPS/NRG nuke plans still need to work their way through the numb skulls (right) of certain council members who just don’t get it that the people really do (get it). But there have been good signs that the council is learning, specifically the battering of cost questions that CPS found themselves smacked with when they came for a proposed rate hike approval, which includes a portion for proposed nuke expansion at South Texas Nuclear Plant.

Full Vulcan press release is here.

For more on the push for a renewable state energy economy, see Nuke Free Texas.

What would you ask from the next pres On Day One?

Climate and energy are shaping up to be key issues in the election in November. And rightfully so. There is much to be done on a range of issues—from investing in clean alternatives to fossil fuels to regulating and pricing greenhouse gas emissions.

Here at home and around the world, many are barreling on ahead to find solutions, and On Day One, the next president will have much to do to tackle the challenge of global warming.

Al Gore recently launched a 300 million dollar initiative aimed at rallying support for solving the climate crisis. The visiting Pope Benedict XVI has converted Vatican City into the first carbon-neutral state. And the UN and the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change continue to work for a new treaty to curb global greenhouse gas emissions, with 187 nations agreeing to the Bali Roadmap last December.

So what should our next president tackle first? Right now we have a host of great climate and energy ideas for the next president. In the end, the most popular idea, as voted on by you, will be sent to our next president’s desk, along with the top ranked ideas from the rest of our 9 for ’09 issues.

This Earth Day we’d ask you to discuss and vote on the ideas from the likes of former EPA Administrator Carol Browner, former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, and Kitchen Gardeners International Founder Roger Doiron, whose idea was featured in Thursday’s New York Times!

If you disagree with their ideas, let them know by commenting or submitting your own!

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