EPA biofuels rule: calculating the payback

The EPA released a report yesterday that proposes to change the rules of the biofuels game.  The report, titled “Regulation of Fuels and Fuel Additives: Changes to Renewable Fuel Standard Program,” examines the lifecycle of corn-for-ethanol practices and sets the “payback” period of carbon emissions for corn-for-ethanol fuel as 33 years. The payback period means that at first, corn-for-ethanol practices will be...

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Climate change, heat stress, and animal evolution

Climate change has the potential to not only increase average temperatures around the world, but also to increase the likelihood and severity of now-rare temperature events, like heat waves.  The fate of many animal populations, therefore, can hinge on their ability to tolerate (relative) extreme heat. In the April issue of Functional Ecology, scientists explore the possible responses of animal populations to a changing climate. Mike...

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Forests might flip from carbon sink to source

Ecologists point to forests as important sinks for atmospheric carbon. But a new report suggests that climate change could induce environmental stresses that would chnge the role of forests into a net carbon source. The report, titled “Adaptation of Forests and People to Climate Change – A Global Assessment,” was coordinated by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) and the Collaborative...

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First proposal for federal climate regulations

Members of the House of Representatives have introduced the first federal bill that would attempt to regulate climate change by placing limits on carbon release, ensuring that 25 percent of the nation’s energy comes from renewable sources and reducing the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050. While the Obama administration is weighing whether to use the Clean Air Act to regulate emissions, House...

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Seabirds: ‘Climate change is here’

To convince naysayers that climate change is real, maybe all we need to tell them is to look up in the sky – or down into the ocean.  Two recent studies show that seabirds can be important sentinels of a changing climate. Says Dee Boersma, University of Washington ecologist and one of the world’s penguin experts, in a NY Times article today: “The big thing is that penguins are showing us that climate change has...

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Omega-3′s might reduce methane ‘emissions’

This just in: Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy not just for you, but may also be good for the environment. We all read about the beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids, found most commonly in fish oils in our diets. They buffer against cancer, reduce the risk of cardiac disease and may also improve brain and immune function.  But in a presentation at the meeting of the Society for General Microbiology in Harrogate, UK today,...

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Environment: Elbowed out by recession

In mid-February, George Will, resident Washington Post conservative and climate-skeptic, wrote an editorial denouncing “Dark Green Doomsayers.” The editorial was filled with anecdotal references of news articles from the 1970′s that declare widespread climate cooling and exclaim that the world will soon find itself in the next ice age. The piece outraged the environmental community and sparked a flurry of internet...

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Projected sea level rise is twice previous estimates

Researchers said yesterday that the potential rise in global sea level by the year 2100 could be almost double the previous estimates. A rise of this magnitude could affect a tenth of the world’s population. At the International Scientific Congress on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark this week, Konrad Steffen of the University of Colorado at Boulder chaired a session on sea level rise. He said that the upper range of sea...

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