Two Visionaries Tackle Climate Change With Rooftop Farms

Two Visionaries Tackle Climate Change With Rooftop Farms

As climate change becomes an increasingly alarming issue, more environmentalists are looking for sustainable ways to keep the effects of global warming at bay. Among these eco visionaries are Courtney Hennessey and John Stoddard of Boston. The duo is credited with the formation of Higher Ground Farm. This is a growing establishment that cultivates miniature farms on the rooftops of buildings in urban cities.

The project has really taken off with several roof farms already in place in New York and another one set to be constructed in Massachusetts. So far, plans are looking good with the company expected to grow up to 100,000 pounds of produce by the end of 2013.

Aside from providing fresh produce, rooftop farming also helps to mitigate climate change. Since the plants on the farm absorb sunlight, it would help reduce a heat island effect, which tends to plague large cities. A heat island effect occurs when a city develops higher temperatures than nearby rural areas as a result of human activity. This would also result in reduced electricity and cooling costs for companies that invest in rooftop farming for their facilities.

Another plus of rooftop farming is that it allows locals affordable and easy access to natural and organic produce, which is a good way to combat obesity and health problems that are rampant in poor urban areas.

Stoddard and Hennessy also hope to strike several partnerships by getting restaurants involved with Higher Ground Farm. This gives restaurateurs the advantage of advertising their cuisines as being served fresh from local sources.

Just like typical farming, rooftop farming also has its share of hurdles and problems. Plants and crops can be affected by wind, pigeons and seagulls. The goal of Higher Ground Farm is to fix a broken system of food production that relies heavily on genetically modified crops.

Scientists Propose Geo-engineering as a Possible Response to Climate Change

Scientists Propose Geo-engineering as a Possible Response to Climate Change

Scientists are brainstorming all sorts of ideas to combat global warming. Among these ideas is geo-engineering, a hotly debated and controversial topic in which the environment is manipulated to great extremes to quell the effects of climate change.

Rather than looking for a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, geo-engineering is a system of ideas that aims to control the carbon dioxide that is already present in the atmosphere. One of the proposed methods involves dispersing massive amounts of the mineral olivine into the ocean. This would increase the water’s alkalinity, which allows it to suck some of the carbon dioxide right out of the air.

However, laboratory tests done at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research shows that this method would be futile. Studies show that in order to effectively eliminate the majority of the carbon dioxide, 40 gigatons of olivine would be required. That is equivalent to 40 billion tons and would fill a fleet of 100 transport ships.

Even if scientists could feasibly obtain that gargantuan amount, the amount of energy needed to crush the mineral into fine powder would create a whole other set of environmental concerns. The massive amount of energy used during the grinding process would emit about a third of the carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. On top of this hurdle, the mineral would also release traces of iron into the sea, which would cause ocean fertilization and lead to a huge surge in plankton.

Geo-engineering continues to remain a hotly debated subject in the scientific community. Some dismiss the idea as utter nonsense that could have unforeseen side effects and irreversible consequences. Proponents, however, see it as a viable alternative and believe that it warrants further discussion given the fact that proposals to curb greenhouse gas emissions have resulted in zero progress.

Prince Charles Becomes an Activist for the Environment

Many celebrities tend to be very vocal about their beliefs and use their stardom to try to make a difference. When it comes to protecting the environment, some of the biggest activists include Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio. You can now add Prince Charles to that list as he says that saving planet Earth is “a grandfather’s duty.”

During an interview at Cambridge House, Prince Charles explains that he does not want his future grandchild to be born in a world where he or she has to tackle serious climate change issues because people like his or her grandfather took a passive stance. He added that if nothing is done, his grandchild and subsequent generations could end up inheriting a world that has become a “poisoned chalice.”

Prince Charles has in fact been a strong environmental advocate for many years. In 2007, he set up the Prince’s Rainforest Group, an organization dedicated to saving the few rainforests that remain in the world. He also spoke in front of the committee at the UN international climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009. A year later, he was invited as a guest speaker at the Oslo Climate and Forest Conference.

Prince Charles also commented on his current project and added that he is in the works of creating a team of volunteers in the UK following the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

With charitable-related issues set aside, Prince Charles also indulged in his excitement about becoming a grandfather for the first time. Prince William and Kate Middleton are expecting their first child due this summer.

On more serious issues, Prince Charles also echoed concerns for his son Prince Henry, who is currently abroad in Afghanistan. Prince Charles regularly meets with the relatives of those killed in action or seriously wounded while fighting the war on terror.

Global Warming Could Spell Doom for Pasta Lovers

Sure, they may be high in carbs, but who doesn’t love their morning bagel, the pasta at dinnertime and the Mac-and-cheese they serve their kids? If you are among those who have to have a serving of rice or bread with every meal, then you might be alarmed to hear that global warming may soon make it harder to obtain the food that has become such a main staple in our diets.

Pasta and bread are derived from wheat
, and scientists are in near unanimous agreement that climate change can have a drastic impact in its production especially as temperatures continue to rise and droughts become increasing severe.

Global warming is responsible for extreme and violent storms as was evident in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Sandy. However, powerful hurricanes and flash floods are not the only worries. Rice, wheat and corn are the foods that most populations around the world rely on. These three are basically crops that grow optimally during the cool season.

Wheat production has declined by over five percent in the last 50 years. This is believed to be attributed to the one degree Fahrenheit increase in global temperatures. Some experts project that wheat production will decline by another 23 to 27 percent by the year 2050 if no actions are taken to curb the rise of climate change. Currently, there is action that is being taken to develop different crop systems that are able to tolerate and thrive in warmer temperatures.

This past July was the hottest recorded summer in U.S. history. This has led to a decline in soybean and corn production, which has caused massive protests all over the world over rising food costs. Unless swift action is taken, out future may be devoid of the food we take for granted today.

Deforestation Just as Big of a Factor to Global Warming as Vehicles and Factories

Most scientists are in unanimous agreement that emissions from vehicles and factories contribute to carbon emission buildup. However, this is only one side of the equation; there are other attributing causes that hasten the effects of global warming that are often not discussed.

Most experts agree that deforestation actually has a more adverse impact than all the emissions from cars and factories combined. According to a study released by the World Carfree Network, smog emitted from vehicles around the world causes about 14 percent of carbon emissions, while deforestation accounts for over 15 percent.

When a tree is cut down, it releases carbon into the air where it combines with greenhouse gases, which is a prime factor in global warming. The problem is that deforestation is often overlooked with much of the resources being devoted instead to creating fuel efficient vehicles and cutting down on overall automobile usage.

An estimate by the Environmental Defense Fund reveals that over 32 million acres of tropical and forested areas were cut down for industrial use between 2000 and 2009.

Of course, preserving tropical areas is much easier said than done. Most of the locals who live near the tropics and Amazon region rely on cutting down trees for their livelihood. Deforestation allows people to make a living by producing charcoal, pastures and timber. In addition to climate change, deforestation is also detrimental to biodiversity as about half of all wildlife species and plants – most of which are not found anywhere else in the world – thrive in these regions.

The United Nations have addressed the issue by developing the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation service. This program provides incentives for those who take measures to adopt more sustainable lifestyles that doesn’t involve cutting down another tree. The aim of the program is to outreach to developing nations that rely heavily on deforestation and provide them with alternatives.

Global Warming may Lead to Depletion in Fish Growth

It has been long suspected that global warming has contributed to rising temperatures. However, not very many scientists have really studied the impact that global warming will have on the ocean and its billions of inhabitants.

A team of ichthyologists from the Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia have published studies suggesting that drastic changes in oceanographic conditions could lead to the rapid depletion of fish populations.

The study surmised that if global warming continues at the current rate over the next 40 years, the marine environment could be altered to the extent that most fish species and water invertebrates will no longer be capable of maintaining the energy needed for sustainable growth.

The primary problem is the reduction of oxygen content in the ocean. Rising temperatures decreases the water’s ability to hold onto oxygen. Oxygen is critical for a fish’s metabolic and respiratory functions. Less oxygen also impairs a fish’s behavioral and biochemical processes and impedes its ability to swim and even to lay eggs.

Aside from a decrease in population, the size and weight of fish may also gradually begin to decrease by up to 10 percent within the next 40 years. Scientists project that tropical areas and particularly the Indian Ocean will suffer the gravest consequences. Additional factors such as pollution and overfishing can further exacerbate the problem.

Global Warming continues to be a heated debate. Skeptics claim it is a myth caused by hysteria and the liberal media and has no scientific basis. Believer, on the other hand, have cautioned that climate change is directly responsible for severe droughts and variations in weather patterns.

If global warming is as serious as some scientists contend it is, then our scaly friends in the ocean will suffer the dire consequences just as much as we will.

The Effects of Climate Change becoming a Reality

This year has been marred by unusually hot weather. Scientists are attributing this to climate change that has been brought on by man-made conditions.

The assessment was partly headed by James Hansen, the director of the Nasa Goddard for Space Studies. Hansen was present for a U.S. senate meeting in 1988 where he gave a grim prediction for the environment if changes are not made. Now, more than 20 years later, he is saying that the current condition is worse than his 1988 prediction.

Hansen went on to say that he miscalculated how rapidly the rise of global temperatures would lead to extreme weather. Further studies also show that temperatures have risen by about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the past 100 years.

The assessment supports the findings from a separate research that rising greenhouse gas emissions increased the occurrence of severe heat waves, floods and droughts. Texas and Oklahoma have suffered from extreme droughts in 2011. Similarly, Europe underwent a series of heat waves in 2010 with Russia going through the same back in 2003. This is all due to the effects of climate change, according to Hansen.

Even Richard Muller, a scientist and once die-hard skeptic of global warming, has now completely switched on his position, saying that the new data has convinced him that there is a serious problem being brought on by climate change.

Both Hansen and Muller are in agreement and certain that the climate change is completely man-made and brought on by pollution and the the gargantuan consumption of fossil fuels. They say that natural causes can most certainly be eliminated as the culprit

The findings are disturbing to say the least. Unless drastic measures are taken, one can only imagine how much worse the environment will be by the time we reach the generation of our children and grandchildren.

Countries in Disagreement at Rio+20 Summit Conference

Back when the first Rio Earth Summit conference was held back in 1992, all participating leaders were in agreement that something had to be done to prevent factors like overpopulation and climate change from causing catastrophic damage on a global scale.

Now, 20 years later, world leaders have convened once again for the Rio+20 meeting. So far, it is clear that nations are at odds over how to address major issues concerning the depletion of natural resources.

The draft agreed to is called “The Future We Want.” Thus far, the provisions of this draft has gone through countless additions, deletions and last minute changes – most of which has been instigated by the U.S. and China. Japan, Russia and European nations also found clauses within the draft that they would not agree to.

Green economy and poverty issues were at the forefront of the meetings. The talks included ideas on how a greener economy and sustainable living can be achieved and how the government, consumers, companies and investors can all play a role to make it happen.

Some believed the bill was far too lenient on major corporations and banking institutions and should be imposing higher limitations on company practices that contribute to pollution and consumption of vital resources. There were also talks over how to improve the general health of the population and ways to relieve poverty.

The U.S., in particular, held firm on its ground and refused any change in policy that may be of economic benefit to competing countries like China.

Though the meetings are supposed to provide solutions for a greener Earth, it appears that each nation is clearly putting its own interest above the issues that the summit meetings are created for. Instead of arriving to solutions, the conferences serve as a grim reminder of the current condition of the world.

Earth Potentially headed for Irreversible Climate Change

Global warming is an issue that has been vigorously debated for the past decade. Some scientists believe it is a real threat that can cause irreversible damage to the ecosystem, while others conclude that the severity of global warming has been overblown.

For believers, they certainly have a new study to validate their concerns. Anthony Barnosky, a biologist from the University of California Berkeley, led a study on the impact of the biosphere caused by human activity.

The study concluded that Earth is at its “tipping point,” and catastrophic damage on the environment lies ahead unless action on an international scale is taken. The rise of climate temperatures, rapid population growth and the depletion of irreplaceable energy resources are all contributing factors that are suffocating the ecosystem.

Barnosky believes that if the signs are ignored, the planet could be headed for a major climate shift – the same kind of change that caused mass extinction and created a permanent change in the biosphere during the last ice age. Barnosky estimated that if no modifications are made, this tipping point could occur within a century’s time or perhaps even within the next few decades, perfectly within the lifetime of today’ children.

Barnosky and his colleagues have been studying fossil records for the past two years and will present their findings in the next Earth Summit meeting. Barnosky has made some startling predictions. Among these include a possible population increase to nine billion by the year 2050. He also surmised that within 60 years or so, average temperatures may reach an all-time high – the highest starting from the time the first humans walked the Earth.

It is important to note, however, that not all scientists are in agreement with Barnosky’s analysis. Richard Lindzen, a climate researcher from the Massachusetts Institute, called Barnosky’s claims “highly implausible.”

With such differences in opinion among the experts, it is difficult to form an accurate conclusion. While there is no question that climate change is a serious issue, it is a matter of the degree of severity that mankind faces and in what timeframe if drastic changes are not taken.

Preventing Global Warming through Geoengineering

Most scientists are in unanimous agreement that global warming is a real threat to Earth’s ecosystem. All sorts of plans have been proposed on how to put a halt to the planet’s steadily rising temperature.

Researchers are now turning to solar geoengineering as a possible solution. The plan involves adding aerosol to the atmosphere, which will help to intersperse the sun’s solar energy and minimize its effects when it reaches Earth’s surface. The idea is to block out about two percent of the sun’s rays.

Like most plans, this one is not without its side effects. It is believed that putting such a plan into action could potentially whiten the sky during daylight hours, though there is no danger of having a milkier sky.

The research was headed by Ben Kravitz and Ken Caldeira and is published in the periodical for the American Geophysical Union.

Carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere everyday through the use of coal and gas from vehicles and factories. This is causing the planet to heat up. Normally, an eruption from a volcano will counteract this effect. An eruption releases particles into the stratosphere and creates a natural shield from sun rays, though the Earth will reheat once the particles thin out. With geoengineering, the idea is to continuously release the particles into the stratosphere through artificial means.

Geoengineering has been tested on small scale environment models. While the plan seems promising, the sky will take on a lighter shade of blue. The sky will be a tad hazier and whiter with a bit of an afterglow from the sun’s appearance.

The human race has already inflicted an irreversible deal of damage to its only home in the last 50 years alone. Though geoengineering is an artificial solution, it may give the planet a much needed lifeline.