Category Archives: Global Warming

Drat

Slashdot has an excited item about a new catalyst that turns CO2 dissolved in water into ethanol. CO2 To Ethanol In One Step With Cheap Catalyst Sounds great, right?

Not so fast: if I understand it (corrections welcomed!) the paper itself warns it still takes too much energy to be worthwhile:

We report an electrocatalyst which operates at room temperature and in water for the electroreduction of dissolved CO2 with high selectivity for ethanol. The overpotential (which might be lowered with the proper electrolyte, and by separating the hydrogen production to another catalyst) probably precludes economic viability for this catalyst, but the high selectivity for a 12-electron reaction suggests that nanostructured surfaces with multiple reactive sites in close proximity can yield novel reaction mechanisms. This suggests that the synergistic effect from interactions between Cu and CNS presents a novel strategy for designing highly selective electrocatalysts.

Guess we haven’t solved global warming yet.

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Doubt This

Warming since 1850Maps showing how much the planet has warmed every year since 1850. View at full size (10 MB file).  Created by Ed Hawkins; spotted via Eye on Miami.

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Here We Go Again

5-day cone

It’s supposed to be a busy hurricane season this year. This particular storm is not organized (yet?), and the National Weather Service is being cagey as to whether and when it might become a serious(ish) storm:

Interests in the northwestern Bahamas and Florida should monitor the progress of this disturbance since it is increasing likely that some impacts, at a minimum heavy rains and gusty winds, will occur beginning this weekend. * Formation chance through 48 hours…medium…50 percent * Formation chance through 5 days…high…80 percent

My rule of thumb is that a tropical wave I don’t drive anywhere, but don’t take in the outdoor furniture. Tropical Storm, I take in the furniture. Worse than that, it is time to stock up on hurricane supplies and gas for the generator. Historically, category 1 storms can cause of damage to trees and power lines but our houses are hardened. I can’t think of a Category 2 in recent years, but in theory the area is hardened for those too. Worse than that, time to worry, although my house was rennovated a few years ago, and now is supposed to be able to withstand a Category 3 at least, and maybe more.

Hurricane Andrew was a Category 4 and it was devastating to the community. The biggest damage was caused by tornadoes spun off the hurricane. Unlike in the Midwest, there’s really no way to see them coming due to the giant storm around them. And of course we don’t have basements to hide in either.

A new complication this year is that big storms, even the less destructive ones, leave big pools of standing water behind them. Mosquitoes love those…which means more Zika….

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I Loved It

French promo: Winter Is Not Coming: Season 6 Teaser.

Great work by Greenpeace.

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There is Water in the Glass

Looking at the information about the climate change agreement coming out of Paris two things seem to emerge: First, this is a more meaningful deal than ever before, and more meaningful than one would have expected two weeks ago. Second, this is not enough to stop global warming, not enough to ensure that we don’t reach the tipping point where the ice caps shrink even faster than they are already doing, not enough to ensure that coastal cities — not least Miami!– will be safe from rising sea levels. The deal may (and if adhered to, likely does) improve the odds some, but since we’re not sure what the odds are, we can’t be sure how much they are improved; it could be a lot, it could be quite little.

So I can’t say the global climate change action glass is half full. But there is water in the glass.

Update: Informed Comment, Paris COP21 will only slow Climate Change: Here’s What’s going to happen to you and your children explains why, even as one recognizes this is progress, it’s still not enough progress. Among other things, however much water there is in the glass, there’s not going to be enough in the ice caps…

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Oh Dear, Miami

Eye on Miami has the scoop on Goodbye, Miami, Rolling Stone’s big Miami story due out tomorrow. It’s a recounting of Miami’s difficult future if/when sea levels rise, and the ostrich-like head-in-the-sand approach to planning by local, mostly Republican, elected officials. There’s also a major cameo by our local power executives, who not only have aging nuclear reactors in a future flood zone but want to build more.

Even though, as EoM notes, none of this is news if you’ve been paying attention, that doesn’t make it any less of a likely/possible mess. But as most of the most likely scenarios put the really serious stuff more than 20 years out, that puts it outside the time horizon of Miami’s endlessly short-term planners.

May I suggest a soundtrack for reading the Rolling Stone article? Try Róisín Murphy’s ‘Dear Miami’, my favorite Miami-themed song. And very appropriate, as it includes the lyric “Dear Miami, you’re the first to go, disappearing under melting snow”.

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