Science VIDEO

Carnegie boffin calculates the benefits of a low-carbon society, and the answer sucks.

Stewardship is hard. Like, really, really hard. And let’s face it: Americans have to have a gun pointed at them in order to deal with anything this hard.

Ken Caldiera at the Carnegie Institution for Science was approached by a science writer with a relatively straightforward question: if we got off our coal-burning, wasteful, polluting methods of energy production, how long before we felt the benefits of that change? The numbers suck.

In order to do anything that might be considered “repairing” the damage done by fossil fuels, we would basically need to completely eradicate coal burning technologies. And if we did that, we might start seeing the benefits somewhere around half a century from now.

Sleep tight. You can watch the video here.


All pollution is local: study finds pollution from Asia commonly causes spikes in pollution in the US.

We’ve all heard of acid rain since the 80’s, but new studies are revealing just how far polluted air will travel. Nature reports that a team of US researchers measured air quality – specifically ozone levels – via satellite and other means to determine the source of pollutants at ground level. Their study reveals that, when ground-level ozone levels pushed beyond what the EPA considers acceptable levels, it was pollution carried over from Asia that was the culprit nearly half the time.

These study results point the way towards more global pressure on international standards of air quality. But they also raise a few questions. For example, if this is how much pollution in Asia has affected the United States, then how much as pollution from the United States harmed the rest of the world, particularly in those undeveloped-until-recently places we’re now criticizing? And second: if these studies prove the need for greater international cooperation among polluting nations, is it an irony that the country they came from is the one not signed to the Kyoto Treaty?

More links:

China is becoming more and more competitive in the realm of nanotechnology. The article notes that, while they have overtaken the US in the number of published journals on the subject, those journals have not elicited as many citations, which is basically academic for saying, “nobody gives a crap.”

Audubon Society members are being sought out to help aid in the continued monitoring of Emerald Ash Borer populations. Emerald Ash Borers are yet another invasive species of life that’s been making its way into the area, and bird-watchers, being out in the woods and looking at trees more than your run-of-the-mill citizen, are much more likely to see the signs of Ash Borer presence.


Feel the Burn. . .

You can survive for one hour. One hour only, but that aught to be enough. We’ve got scientists crunching the numbers.

“Oh, smashing news,” you say. “Hang on. Survive where? The moon?” No, Beijing, the world’s most polluted city, which is hosting the Olympic Games. Now, get out there and compete:

Athletes safe in Beijing air for up to an hour: IOC | Reuters

International Olympic Committee scientists have proved that Beijing’s air will present no health risk to athletes competing for up to an hour at the 2008 Games, IOC chief inspector Hein Verbruggen said on Wednesday.