Asking So What About Climate Change

Cynthia Rosenzweig at her farm in Tuscany, Italy, in 1969. She now works in a lab at Columbia University but her research takes her to farms around the world.
Shari Lifson

The expected effects of climate change have haunted these pages plenty over the years. We have not heard of this prize before but as practitioners who believe in the value of science, especially the value of good scientific questions, in mitigating those effects we appreciate that the World Food Prize goes to former farmer who answers climate change question: ‘So what?’

For scientist – and former farmer – Cynthia Rosenzweig, her work on climate change has always revolved around one big question: “So what?”

“Impacts of climate change are crucially important,” she says. “If the climate changes and nothing happened, why would we care?” Continue reading

New Carbon Capture Method in Iceland

Site close to the Hellisheidi geothermal power plant, where CO2 was injected into volcanic rock. In two years it was almost completely mineralised. Photograph: Juerg Matter/Science via The Guardian

We’ve discussed carbon capture before, in the chemical sense with scrubbers at coal-plants and regarding the history of coal, but most of our posts have been concerned with lowering carbon emissions rather than sequestering it. Today we learned that a new technique tested in Iceland turned CO2 released from a geothermal plant into a limestone of sorts, where it appears to no longer contribute to global greenhouse gases. Damian Carrington reports for The Guardian:

Carbon dioxide has been pumped underground and turned rapidly into stone, demonstrating a radical new way to tackle climate change.

The unique project promises a cheaper and more secure way of burying CO2 from fossil fuel burning underground, where it cannot warm the planet. Such carbon capture and storage (CCS) is thought to be essential to halting global warming, but existing projects store the CO2 as a gas and concerns about costs and potential leakage have halted some plans.

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Antibiotics, Even Worse than Anticipated

© Conservation Magazine

We disagree with having cows filled with antibiotics, primarily because of the problems created by bacterial resistance to drugs given without cause. But now we’re learning that there’s even more wrong with antibiotics in cattle: their dung releases more methane. Catherine Elton reports for Conservation Magazine:

Antibiotic use and overuse in livestock has long been controversial, as it has been linked to antibiotic resistance in humans. Livestock are regularly given antibiotics to keep them healthy in overcrowded or unsanitary conditions, or even to boost their growth.

Now, a study published recently in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B has documented for the first time that antibiotics given to cows also increase the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane from cow dung.

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