The Hot Zone

Small is beautiful

It’s easy to get caught up in the promise of geoengineering. No sacrifice required, no real change in the way we do business. It becomes easy to overlook reachable efforts when a technology fix is all that’s considered needed. But one reachable effort that has no discernibly negative effects deserves more attention: cooking stoves. They’re certainly not as sexy as giant reflectors orbiting the Earth, or pumping CO2 deep underground, but we pretty much know that stoves will work. Much... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on April 2, 2010 No Comments »
Category : The Politics of Climate Change, The man made climate

The Great Tinkering

Last week more than 175 scientists met at a seaside resort center in Monterey, California to confront the controversial  issue of geoengineering the planet to stem global warming. Participants at the Asilomar International Conference on Climate Intervention Technologies — or Asilomar 2, following the first one in 1975 on bioengineering — declared that geoengineering research is “indispensable” but should be be done with “humility.” They outlined two main geoengineering... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on April 1, 2010 No Comments »
Category : The man made climate

Not set in stone

Welcome to the Anthropocene – the “human epoch.” Geological time may seem set in stone, and certainly it has been (as far as we’ve defined it) for the past 12,000 years in the Holocene. But the Holocene’s relatively stable interglacial climate, so hospitable that it allowed the rise of human civilization, seems to be coming to a close. Geologic epochs are typically defined by distinctive changes in sedimentary layers. So what makes these days geologically different?... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on March 25, 2010 No Comments »
Category : The man made climate

Extreme Sand

By Alison Hawkes A fine yellow dust has gripped Beijing and parts of central and northern China, blown in from the Gobi Desert in a whirling cloud. Nothing, including China’s “Great Green Wall,” an ongoing project to develop a 2,800-mile belt of planted trees, could stop it. On the ground, people went about their days draped in face masks, as Beijing reached a pollution index of 500 — the worst possible level — because of all the particulate matter in the air. From above... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on March 22, 2010 No Comments »
Category : The man made climate

Unhappy Gas

By Alison Hawkes Remember the ozone hole? Well, it’s not gone yet but as of a 2005 IPCC report, the problem has stabilized, thanks to the worldwide ban on CFCs. That’s good because no one wants to get fried by ultraviolet radiation, but bad because it may be leading to greater warming, especially in the Antarctic. Geo-engineering enthusiasts say we should just shoot up sulfur aerosols, finely suspended sulfur particles that reflect sunlight, into the atmosphere. Never mind that we’d... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on March 19, 2010 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists, The man made climate

Hole in the Earth

By Alison Hawkes I’ve always wondered how mountaintop coal mining – in which an entire peak of a mountain is blasted away to reveal the underlying coal – could possibly pass U.S. environmental muster. You can’t even dump a soda can into a stream legally, so how does a company completely change the contour of a mountain, fill the excess pilings into stream beds, and call it a day? Yet there it is, and despite a series of thorny legal challenges the practice has actually... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on March 2, 2010 No Comments »
Category : The man made climate

A Bad Habit

By Alison Hawkes Sigh. I read with dismay an article about IPCC head Rajendra Pachauri being slammed once again, this time for his personal habit of using a car and driver to get one mile from his Delhi home to his office. Reminds me of Al Gore’s fiasco concerning the energy use in his Nashville mansion. No doubt these attacks are part of a strategy to kill the climate change message by killing the messengers. But it’s not entirely without merit to scrutinize the central figures in the... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on February 22, 2010 No Comments »
Category : The man made climate


 by Erica Rex I’ve been following, via Twitter, the trail of my colleague, David Biello, during his coverage of the Copenhagen conference  for Scientific American, where he is Associate Editor for environment and energy. Aside from his brief reports of climbing a wind turbine “climbing a wind turbine is grueling but pop the top and enjoy spectacular view (at least on Samso) better if they didn’t sway though,” most of the reports I’ve been reading from Copenhagen... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on December 14, 2009 No Comments »
Category : The man made climate


by Erica Rex Last night, I attended a panel and Q&A in Manchester, England, to hear Ed Miliband, the UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change speak and answer questions before his departure for the UN climate conference that has just started in Copenhagen. He was joined by Sir Richard Leese from the Manchester City Council, Len Wardle, CEO of The Co-op, and Mike Childs from Friends of the Earth.  The panel was captured real-time on video, if you want to view it here. But if you... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on December 9, 2009 No Comments »
Category : The man made climate


by Erica Rex Earlier this week, The Hot Zone spoke with Dr. Rasmus Benestad of the Norwegian Meterological Institute about the need for precise local measurements of climate phenomena.  We need local measurement, he pointed out, in order to tell what the real impact of climate change is on humans – as well as on other species.  How are weather patterns changing, for instance?  What effect does this have on agriculture and fisheries at the local level? I asked Dr. Anastasia Romanou,... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on October 24, 2009 No Comments »
Category : The man made climate

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