greenhouse gases

MIT Redesigns Natural Gas Power Plant For Near-Zero Carbon Emissions

New technology produces energy from fuel without burning it

With the conference in Copenhagen swiftly approaching, and the Senate analog to the Waxman-Markey "American Clean Energy and Security Act" struggling towards the floor, little doubt remains that fossil fuel-burning power plants will soon face either fines for, or mandatory reduction of, carbon emissions. Luckily, a team at MIT has devised a power plant set up that generates power from fossil fuels, but does so with almost none of the carbon emissions.

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So Much For "Hopenhagen"

World leaders give up on signing a climate-change treaty at the COP 15 talks next month

Over the weekend President Obama and other world leaders broke the news: No legally binding international climate-change treaty this year.

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California's Emissons Rules Become National Standard

For the first time, a national standard, which calls for calls for cars and light trucks to be up to 30% cleaner by 2016

The Obama administration is expected to announce that California's strictest-in-the-nation gas mileage and emissions standards will now become a national standard. And surprisingly, U.S. automakers are actually happy.

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The Top Ten Greenhouse Gases's guide to the vapors that are making Earth more toasty

Despite all the talk about carbon capture, carbon footprints and carbon trading, carbon dioxide only causes nine to 26 percent of the greenhouse effect. That means that the majority of warming results from gases with a much lower media profile than the paparazzi-trailed starlet of global warming, CO2. In honor of last weeks’ report in the Journal of Geophysical Research, which identified a brand new greenhouse gas, counts down the gases that bring us bikini weather in Antarctica and beachfront property in Montana.

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The Big Melt

A two-year polar survey finds ice sheets melting faster than expected, and more grim news

Less than two weeks before scientists from around the world gather in Copenhagen to issue recommendations for a new global climate-change treaty, the results from the two-year International Polar Year survey have arrived. They are not pleasant.

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Ethanol—Better Than We Thought?

Study shows that corn ethanol produces half the greenhouse emissions of gasoline

Common sense says that burning a plant you regrow every year is better for the atmosphere than spewing out carbon dioxide that’s been buried underground for eons. But the truth behind biofuels and petroleum often seems to defy common sense. Neither ethanol nor gasoline bubbles out of the ground ready to put in your tank. So to figure out which one does less environmental harm, you have to calculate all the energy that goes into making it.

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Volcanoes: The Real Eco-Villains?

Could CO2 emissions from the earth be bigger greenhouse-gas culprits than humans?

Dear EarthTalk: Could it really be true that a single large volcanic eruption launches more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the amount generated by all of humanity over history? -- Steve Schlemmer, London, England

This argument that human-caused carbon emissions are merely a drop in the bucket compared to greenhouse gases generated by volcanoes has been making its way around the rumor mill for years. And while it may sound plausible, the science just doesn't back it up.

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The Cost of Gases

Eastern states put a price on CO2 emissions

Plans for cap-and-trade, carbon taxes, and other financial tools to curb global warming may float in and out of the national forum. But on a more local level, a price has already been placed on greenhouse gas emissions; it's $3.07 per ton.

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Gaseous State

Scientists measure methane at the source

In a lush pasture near Buenos Aires, this cow and its compatriots are digesting important information: how much methane—a greenhouse gas 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide—is released by the country’s 55 million bovines. Researchers from Argentina's National Institute of Agricultural Technology connected inflatable tanks to the cows’ first stomach, where methane is made, through a small hole between their ribs.

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G8 Climate Change Decision a Mixed Bag

The Group agrees to halve greenhouse gases by 2050, developing nations don’t buy it

On Tuesday, G8 leaders in Japan made an agreement that sounds great – by 2050, they’ll cut the number of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by half. It’s an improvement to Kyoto Protocol, at least, which the United States refused to adopt (and refused to apologize about). But developing nations, including China and India, were quick to criticize the accord, insisting that the G8 cut their emissions by more than 80 percent.

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Designing Greener Dirt

British scientists try to engineer soils that suck carbon out of the air

Getting carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere is just one step. After plants and trees pull CO2 out of the air, some of the surplus carbon is funneled down into the soil, where it can then re-enter the atmosphere or seep into groundwater. To trap this excess carbon, Newcastle University scientists are trying to design new kinds of soils that would transform the stuff into calcium carbonate, keeping it down in the ground.

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Breaking Down the Bad Stuff in the Air

Deadly soot emerges as a much bigger contributor to global warming than previously believed

In a new review article in Nature Geoscience, two scientists say that black carbon, the stuff that gets kicked up into the air from biomass burning and diesel engines, among other things, could account for as much as 60 percent of the warming effect of carbon dioxide. That's three to four times greater than most estimates, and more than that of any greenhouse gas save CO2.

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Greener Buildings for Cleaner Air

Inefficient buildings and homes account for a third of North America's greenhouse gas emissions—so why is the market so hesitant to green the building process?

I live in a hundred year-old house where most everything is original: the windows (drafty), the walls (uninsulated), the furnace (burns oil). I need only look at my heating bill every month to deduce what the Commission for Environmental Cooperation has determined through a two-year study—homes and office buildings in North America account for over one-third of the continent's greenhouse gas emissions. They are terribly inefficient.

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Duct Tape Methods to Save the Earth: Re-Ice the Arctic

Salty ice could keep ocean currents flowing

Where: Near Greenland

Cost: $50 billion

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Can we take the carbon out of carbon-based energy?

BP thinks it can

Carbon Challenge

It is increasingly accepted that rising levels of greenhouse gases are
contributing to changes in the world's climate. One of the main culprits is carbon dioxide. We exhale carbon dioxide when we breathe. Our cars, homes, factories, and the power plants that light our streets, all release carbon dioxide into the air. It's also emitted when fossil fuels are burned for energy. But that's about to change.

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