Former Texas Governor Rick Perry nominated as Secretary of U.S. Department of Energy
President-elect Donald Trump has added another name to his cabinet: former Texas Governor Rick Perry will head the U.S. Department of Energy. The announcement has drawn mixed responses. The oil and gas industry, on the one hand, welcomed the fossil fuel industry-friendly climate change skeptic... View full entry
American firms aren't doing enough to reduce their carbon footprint, according to new report
“We are simply not making significant strides in crucial metrics that predict building performance,” states Greg Mella, FAIA, Director of Sustainable Design at SmithGroupJJR and co-chair of the AIA 2030 Working Group, in a new report that gauges the progress made by firms voluntarily... View full entry
Architects call for action on climate change
The building sector has a uniquely intimate relationship to global warming. One the one hand, cities consume 78% of the world’s energy and are responsible for more than 60% of global carbon emissions; building maintenance accounts for nearly 50% of energy usage and construction is one of the... View full entry
Alaskan village voting on whether to relocate because of sea level rise
The residents of the northern Alaskan village of Shishmaref are currently voting to decide whether or not to relocate their village. As global warming brings up temperatures, the sea ice that once protected the village has begun to melt. Now the town, which is built on a barrier island in the... View full entry
Climate change will make finding a host city for the 2088 Olympics incredibly difficult
As our planet grows warmer over our lifetimes, the number of cities that will be cool enough to reasonably host the summer games is going to rapidly dwindle. And that doesn’t just mean Atlanta or L.A. According to an analysis published in The Lancet last week...only three plausible host cities in the entire continent of North America may still be low risk by 2085 (or the summer games of 2088): San Francisco, Calgary, and Vancouver.
There may be zero in Africa or Latin America, and only two in Asia (Bishkek, in Kyrgyzstan, and Ulaanbaatar, in Mongolia).As the article notes, the really disturbing implication of this research is less about athletics and more about day-to-day work. Half the world's population works outside... View full entry
Engineers grapple with a melting Alaskan Highway
Today the highway serves as the main artery connecting the “Last Frontier” with Canada and the northwestern U.S., bringing tourists to Alaska cruise ships; food, supplies and medicine to remote towns; and equipment to oil fields and mines that are the region’s lifeblood...
“Communities are unable to reach each other, it’s harder to get goods there,” [...] Thawing permafrost isn’t “just an inconvenience, folks; it’s a change in the way of life.”
More on Archinect:Global warming is redrawing national bordersRussia considering plans for a 12,400-mile superhighway linking London and AlaskaObama changes the name of tallest mountain from Mt McKinley to DenaliWhy American infrastructure funding keeps facing such an uphill battle View full entry
Phoenix may become a lot more green
According to the Los Angeles Times, the sunny city of Phoenix, Arizona might become a little cooler, as the city develops a plan to give 25% of the city a tree canopy by 2030. Currently, the city has about half as much shade.The city plans to use a mix of steel 'trees', native plants like... View full entry
May government abolishes climate change department
The decision to abolish the Department for Energy and Climate Change has been variously condemned as “plain stupid”, “deeply worrying” and “terrible” by politicians, campaigners and experts.
One of Theresa May’s first acts as Prime Minister was to move responsibility for climate change to a new Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.
— the Independent
"Only on Monday, Government advisers had warned of the need to take urgent action to prepare the UK for floods, droughts, heatwaves and food shortages caused by climate change."In related news:In a surprise announcement, UK gov to provide £540m for flood protectionBritain's last deep-pit coal... View full entry
Cold War-era spy photography finds second life as climate change record
It was revealed earlier this month that declassified U.S. spy satellite photographs taken above the Antarctic have inadvertently also documented how that continent has been affected by climate change. In this case, deep in the archives of national intelligence agencies are satellite photos half a century old in which scientifically useful data has been hiding in plain sight. These now-outdated spy photographs have thus found an unexpected second life as important tools of planetary science...
— the Atlantic
For more on the often unexpected sources of climate data, check out these links:The 700-year old climate data recorded by Japanese monksGlobal warming may be much more catastrophic (and happen much quicker) than we imaginedLast year was the warmest since (at least) 1880Architecture of the... View full entry
Global warming is redrawing national borders
"Climate change is happening so fast and on such a huge scale that it's forcing us to change the borders of a country," said head of the mapping expedition, Marco Ferrari... The borders of a country are "something we always consider as stable, as a political device, the foundation of the modern state, the most sacred thing, but this huge natural transformation makes clear how disruptive and alarming these changes are," he said.
"Even the biggest and most stable things, like glaciers, mountains—these huge objects, they can change in a few years. We live on a planet that changes, and we try to make rules, to give meaning, but this meaning is completely artificial because nature, basically, doesn't give a... View full entry
Icelandic researchers turn CO2 into stone
Scientists think they have found a smart way to constrain carbon dioxide emissions - just turn them to stone.
The researchers report an experiment in Iceland where they have pumped CO2 and water underground into volcanic rock.
Reactions with the minerals in the deep basalts convert the carbon dioxide to a stable, immobile chalky solid.
Even more encouraging, the team writes in Science magazine, is the speed at which this process occurs: on the order of months.
It feels rare to hear good news from the climate front these days. Here's some more:Copenhagen divests from fossil fuelsArchitect turned sea-flooding specialist keeps Panama City afloatSan Francisco to mandate solar panels for new constructionsThe scientists trying to harness the power of waves View full entry
Nearly a quarter of the Great Barrier reef has been killed by warming oceans
Surveys have revealed that 93% of the almost 3,000 individual reefs have been touched by bleaching, and almost a quarter – 22% – of coral over the entire Great Barrier Reef has been killed by this bleaching event...
Since tourists usually go diving and snorkelling in the middle and southern sections, there are plenty of spectacular corals for them to see there. But they shouldn’t be fooled by that – the reef is in the midst of a major environmental catastrophe.
— the Guardian
"Many scientists are now saying it is almost too late to save it. Strong and immediate action is required to alleviate water pollution and stop the underlying cause: climate change."For other news from the front lines of our warming planet, check out these links:America's first "climate refugees"... View full entry
Copenhagen divests from fossil fuels
The City of Copenhagen will pull its investments out of coal, oil and gas companies. The city council have agreed to divest the fossil fuel holdings of the city’s €920 million investment fund
"Copenhagen decided to ban investments in companies that gain more than 5 percent of their revenue from coal, oil and gas. The criteria apply to companies that engage in prospecting, extracting or refining coal, oil and gas..."
— Cities Today
Good work Danes! For other urban efforts to curb our collective fossil fuel addiction, check out these links:What the Paris Agreement means for architectureBritain's last deep-pit coal mine closes — the end of the industrial revolution?The climate is getting hotter, and we're not... View full entry
The UAE might build an artificial mountain to increase rainfall
The UAE is currently in the first stage of a man-made mountain development project as the country mulls different approaches to maximising rainfall.
Experts from the US-based University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), which manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) are in the “detailed modelling study” phase, as per NCAR scientist and lead researcher Roelof Bruintjes.
— Abu Dhabi 2
For more attempts to geoengineer our way out of eco-trouble, check out some past articles:New satellite images show progress in China's island-building projectScientists Propose Using Lasers to Fight Global WarmingCan cloud-seeding clear Singapore's skies?Could scientists engineer... View full entry
Silicon Valley campuses at risk as sea levels rise
Sea level forecasts by a coalition of scientists show that the Silicon Valley bases for Facebook, Google and Cisco are at risk of being cut off or even flooded, even under optimistic scenarios where rapid cuts in greenhouse gas emissions avoid the most severe sea level increases.
Without significant adaptation, Facebook’s new campus appears most at risk.
— the Guardian
San Francisco to mandate solar panels for new constructionsWhile the Frank Gehry-designed campus was elevated to prevent flooding, even a 1.6 ft rise – on the low end of predictions – will "inundate" the campus. Google is a little better off but will also be swamped if the Antarctic ice sheet... View full entry