Commercial space travel on private rocket ships took a major step toward reality on Oct. 25 with the dedication of a nearly two-mile-long runway at the “operating hub” north of Las Cruces, N.M. Each flight will take passengers 62.5 miles above the Earth into weightless space, remain there four or five minutes, and then return to Earth.
On hand was Sir Richard Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group; Bill Richardson, New Mexico’s governor and the former U.S. Energy secretary; and about 30 civilian “future astronauts” planning space travel via Branson’s company, .
But at a time when a half-dozen U.S. companies are vying to be the first to bring tourists to space, a report to be published in November in the journal warns that fuel emissions from such rocket launches may pose serious consequences for the Earth’s stratosphere—causing as much as a 1-degree Centigrade rise in polar temperatures and a 5 percent to 15 percent reduction in polar ice.
The United Nations warned today that a continued failure to tackle climate change was putting at risk decades of progress in improving the lives of the world's poorest people.
In its annual flagship report on the state of the world, the UN said unsustainable patterns of consumption and production posed the biggest challenge to the anti-poverty drive.
"For human development to become truly sustainable, the close link between economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions needs to be severed," the UN said in its annual human development report (HDR).
Environmentalists' hopes that a coal-fired power plant in southwestern Kansas would never get built suffered a possible setback this week with the controversial departure of a state official who gained national attention three years ago when he denied the plant's permit based on its possible effect on climate change.
Rod Bremby, secretary of the (KDHE), was replaced after declining Gov. Mark Parkinson's request he leave to direct the transition team that will see Governor-elect Sam Brownback into office in two months.
Opponents of the proposed plant near Holcomb, Kan., believe he was forced out so that a permit for the plant would stand a better chance of being approved by the KDHE before take effect Jan. 2.
“There isn't anyone in the state who doesn't know what this was about,” said Scott Allegrucci, executive director of the , based in Topeka, Kan.
MEXICO CITY – In the run up to this month’s , Mexico has poised itself as an eager champion of climate change initiatives by rallying its Latin American counterparts to bring environmental policies to the top of their political agendas.
Rather than bolster its role as liaison, however, the country should first remedy its own domestic policy dilemma, local environment and energy experts argue. Even while Mexico outlines ambitious goals for climate change, the government is boosting the struggling economy by expanding the state-run oil industry and promoting car ownership.
“If Mexico wants to be a leader in the fight against climate change, it has to profoundly rectify its current policies for the energy sector instead of taking the country down the same road of fossil fuel consumption,” said Gustavo Ampugnani of .
California voters defended their landmark climate law by yesterday, ending questions over whether the state's 2006 legislation aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions would be suspended until the state unemployment rate fell by more than half.
While election results in the rest of the nation make the outlook for federal climate legislation dim, yesterday's vote in California solidifies the position of the state as the country's bastion of the clean energy economy, whose outsized GDP will unavoidably influence policy and commerce across the nation as its climate law gets implemented.
Some 61 percent of voters rejected Prop. 23. While pre-election polls indicated they were likely to turn down the controversial ballot measure, which was largely funded by out-of-state oil interests, the overwhelming defeat has advocates thrilled.
“It’s clearly a strong victory for clean energy in the face of scare tactics in a weak economy,” said Steven Maviglio, a spokesperson for , the coalition that campaigned heavily against the referendum. The defeat, Maviglio told SolveClimate News, indicates voters believe California can have both “a strong economy and a clean environment.”
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia—Rep. Tom Perriello looked so buoyant and sounded so effervescent during his concession speech Tuesday night that backers not yet aware of the final election numbers might have thought the clean energy champion was headed back to a second term in Congress.
But in this third straight, independent-instigated “wave election,” voters booted Perriello and at least 60 other House Democrats out of office.
Though Democrats retained a slimmer Senate majority, the House turnabout erased significant pickups that Democrats made in 2006 and 2008. With the lower chamber flipping to the GOP, Ohio Republican John Boehner is in line to replace California Democrat Nancy Pelosi as House speaker.
Populations of tropical species are plummeting and humanity’s demands on natural resources are sky-rocketing to 50% more than the earth can sustain, according to the 2010 edition of WWF’s – the leading survey of the health of the earth.
The study -- produced in collaboration with the and the -- uses what it terms “a series of indicators to monitor biodiversity, human demand on renewable resources and ecosystem services”.
This “Living Planet Index” reflects changes in ecosystems by tracking trends in nearly 8,000 populations of vertebrate species -- more than 2,500 species of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians. The global index, says the report, shows a 30% decrease from 1970 to 2007; the tropics have been hardest hit, with a 60% decline in less than 40 years.
“There is an alarming rate of biodiversity loss in low-income, often tropical, countries while the developed world is living in a false paradise, fuelled by excessive consumption and high carbon emissions,” according to Jim Leape, director general of WWF International.
Two chemical manufacturers are seeking an exemption from new rules in Wyoming that require public disclosure of the chemicals used in , a controversial natural gas drilling process suspected of polluting groundwater.
ChemEOR, based in Covina, Calif., and CESI Chemical Inc., based in Marlow, Okla., have asked the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to grant their fracturing fluids trade secret status, according to state oil and gas supervisor Tom Doll. The designation would still require the companies to share their formulas with the state but would exempt them from making the information available to the public.
"Disclosure is the rule," Doll said. "Anything else is a rare exception, and one we will look at very, very closely."
WASHINGTON—Democrats are not only more prone to think that global warming is happening but they are also much more apt to worry about it than independents and Republicans.
That partisan split emerged loud and clear when Yale University researchers crunched a separate set of numbers from an in-depth climate change study they released in mid-October. The prospect of a looming Election Day prompted the survey collaborators to in attitudes toward global warming.
“We always go into our research with an open mind,” Anthony Leiserowitz, with the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, told SolveClimate News. “These results are not a surprise because it’s a phenomenon we’ve been witnessing for many years now.”
BP said today it expects the cost of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster to be $7.7bn (£4.8bn) bigger than previously thought, pushing the total bill to nearly $40bn.
The oil giant announced the new charge to cover the cost of the Gulf of Mexico spill alongside its financial results for the third quarter of the year. It blamed the delays that dogged its attempts to seal the leak, along with higher clean-up costs and legal fees.
The new charge knocked BP's pre-tax profits for the third quarter of 2010 down to $1.8bn, compared with $4.98bn a year ago.