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Link: Biodiesels Pollute More Than Crude Oil, Leaked Data Show

Greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels such as palm oil, soybean and rapeseed are higher than those for fossil fuels when the effects of Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) are counted, according to leaked EU data seen by EurActiv.

The default values assigned to the biofuels compare to those from Canada’s oil sands – also known as tar sands – according to the figures, which should be released along with long-awaited legislative proposals on biofuels in the spring.

A spokesperson for the European Commission said she could “not comment on leaked documents, such as impact assessments which have not been published.”

But industry and civil society sources described the data as credible and in line with other studies. One said it would sound a death knell for the biodiesel industry, if published.

“I think the science has proved clearly that because of the link to deforestation in places such as South East Asia, a lot of the biodiesels have significantly negative impacts on the climate,” Robbie Blake, a spokesman for Friends of the Earth, told EurActiv.

ILUC happens when forests and wetlands are cleared to compensate for lands taken to grow biofuels elsewhere.

One recent report predicted that all of Malaysia’s tropical peatswamp forests would be destroyed by the end of the decade because of ILUC - with alarming consequences for greenhouse gas emissions - unless the expansion of palm oil production was halted. 

To measure the climate impact of fuels, Brussels favours assigning default values based on a calculation of their full lifecycle emissions, hence the debate over ILUC factors and biofuels.

In its recent review of the Fuel Quality Directive, the EU proposed a default value of 107g CO2 equivalent per megajoule of fuel (CO2/mj) for oil from tar sands, as compared to 87.5g CO2/mj for crude oil, reflecting the greater environmental harm that its production causes.

Yet while advanced ‘second generation’ biofuels comfortably outperform fossil fuels in the EU’s new data, palm oil is ascribed a value of 105g, soybean 103g, rapeseed 95g, and sunflower 86g, once ILUC is factored in.

The data propose ILUC-incorporating CO2/mj values for biofuels as follows:

• Oil from tar sands - 107g
• Palm Oil - 105g
• Soy bean – 103g
• Rapeseed – 95g
• Crude oil - 87.5g
• Sunflower – 86g
• Palm Oil with methane capture – 83g
• Corn (Maize) – 43g
• Sugar Cane – 36g

Link: Carbon Emissions Show Biggest Jump Ever Recorded

Global carbon emissions soared 5.9 percent in 2010, the largest increase ever recorded, according to the Global Carbon Project, an international collaboration of scientists that tracks carbon emissions. The increase comes after a short-lived decline in emissions in 2008 and 2009 and is a sign that global CO2 emissions are once again on the rise as world economies bounce back from recession. The overall jump of more than 500,000 million tons of CO2 emissions from 2009 to 2010 was likely the largest absolute increase since the Industrial Revolution, according to the Global Carbon Project. Emissions in China, the world’s largest source of CO2 releases, rose by 10.4 percent to 2.2 billion tons of carbon injected into the atmosphere. Emissions in the U.S., after dropping 7 percent in 2009, rose by 4 percent last year, according to the report. On average, fossil fuel emissions increased about 3.1 percent from 2000 to 2010, about three times the rate of increase during the 1990s. The combustion of coal represented more than half of the growth in emissions, the report said. Glen Peters, a researcher at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo and a leader of the Global Carbon Project, said the steep rise in emissions is evidence of a trend that portends severe climate change in the future. “Each year the emissions go up, there’s another year of negotiations, another year of indecision,” said Peters.

Link: Tiny Tubes Could Absorb More Carbon Dioxide Than Trees

Scotland’s University of Edinburgh, researchers are developing a minuscule tube that can suck carbon dioxide out of the air. Each tube measures just 1 micrometer long by 1 nanometer in diameter, and a square meter of them could soak up as much carbon as 10 trees. Eleanor Campbell, the professor leading the research, says the nanotube technology can replicate nature’s work: “In some ways,” she said in a press release, “the unit would work like an artificial tree.” In fact, it has some advantages over trees: Nanotubes don’t die, they don’t require particular soil chemistries, they’re not sensitive to cold snaps, they don’t get confused and start blooming in November if the thermometer rises above 60 degrees. Campbell suggests one “key advantage” of the nanotubes is that they can be used in urban areas, “where tree planting is not possible.” 

Link: Northwest Massive Oyster Die-offs Show Ocean Acidification Has Arrived

The acidification of the world’s oceans from an excess of CO2 emissions has already begun, as evidenced recently by the widespread mortality of oyster larvae in the Pacific Northwest. Scientists say this is just a harbinger of things to come if greenhouse gas emissions continue to soar.

“My wife sent a few samples in and Hales said someone had screwed up the samples because the [dissolved CO2 gas] level was so ridiculously high,” says Wiegardt, a fourth-generation oyster farmer. But the measurements were accurate. What the Whiskey Creek hatchery was experiencing was acidic seawater, caused by the ocean absorbing excessive amounts of CO2 from the air.

Ocean acidification — which makes it difficult for shellfish, corals, sea urchins, and other creatures to form the shells or calcium-based structures

The region’s thriving oyster hatcheries have had to scramble to adapt to these increases in acidity.

they need to live — was supposed to be a problem of the future. But because of patterns of ocean circulation, Pacific Northwest shellfish are already on the front lines of these potentially devastating changes in ocean chemistry. Colder, more acidic waters are welling up from the depths of the Pacific Ocean and streaming ashore in the fjords, bays, and estuaries of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, exacting an environmental and economic toll on the region’s famed oysters.”


The Great Dying: first it warmed, then it burned
Recently, we discussed evidence that the Earth’s biggest mass extinction, the End Permian (often called the Great Dying), was triggered by a physiological crisis: high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide lowered the ocean’s pH and created problems with anoxia. That doesn’t, however, tell us much about what happened on land or about how quickly events transpired. Now, researchers have provided the most precise dates yet on the Great Dying and found that it took place over less than 200,000 years and was accompanied by very rapid changes in the atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Read More.

The Great Dying: first it warmed, then it burned

Recently, we discussed evidence that the Earth’s biggest mass extinction, the End Permian (often called the Great Dying), was triggered by a physiological crisis: high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide lowered the ocean’s pH and created problems with anoxia. That doesn’t, however, tell us much about what happened on land or about how quickly events transpired. Now, researchers have provided the most precise dates yet on the Great Dying and found that it took place over less than 200,000 years and was accompanied by very rapid changes in the atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Read More.

Link: Global carbon dioxide output soaring

US department of energy says greenhouse emissions rose six per cent in 2010, far more than recent worst case scenario.The global output of heat-trapping carbon dioxide jumped by the biggest amount on record, the US department of energy has calculated, in a sign of how weak the world’s efforts have been at slowing man-made global warming. The new figures for 2010 mean that levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago. “The more we talk about the need to control emissions, the more they are growing,” John Reilly, co-director of MIT’s Joint Programme on the Science and Policy of Global Change, said.

(Source: ideologyglasses)