The Weekly Carboholic: low carbon holiday ideas

Posted on December 17, 2008

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carboholic

The holidays tend to be high-energy, high-waste, and thus high-carbon. The following sites have a number of ideas for those of you interested in reducing your carbon footprint this holiday season.

  • Low-carbon holiday gifts, stocking stuffers, and more here.
  • 365, er, 64 low carbon holiday ideas
  • Climatefriendly.com’s ideas (in pdf)
  • New Economics Foundation’s paper on where the carbon is, and how to avoid it
  • Some ideas for how to green your holiday dinner in this one
  • And if you’re interested in a more detailed accounting of all the calories carbon you’re consuming this season, here’s another paper with a few more details than you might have wanted to read

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Hurricane Ike biochar

In a “lemons into lemonade” story, a team from Rice University in Houston won a citywide “Recycle Ike” contest for the best idea about reusing debris from Hurricane Ike. The solution that the Rice team came up with was to burn the tree debris and then to bury it underground, creating biochar that would, over the long run, sequester carbon and improve the fertility of the lands that the biochar was buried in. According to the Houston Chronicle article (link above), there is so much tree debris that the chipping and composting companies won’t be able to handle all the debris in anything resembling a timely manner, thus the need for some way to get rid of it fast. Enter biochar.

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Inhofe the climate Scrooge

Last January, Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma released 400 names of so-called scientists who thought that climate disruption was bullshit. His list was as roundly criticized as it was soapboxed by deniers, and a whole lot of those “scientists” were found to not actually be anyone with any real climate expertise. Inhofe timed his update (New and Improved! Now with 650 “Scientists”!) last week to coincide with the Poznan climate meeting, and again the deniers are using it as justification to come out of the woodwork.

But as with his last list, this one is also bullshit. Here’s a quick encapsulation of what the sites below found when they started chewing up (and vomiting out) Inhofe’s latest:

In Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Scrooge reformed by the end of the story. I have no such lofty hopes for Inhofe or Morano.

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Population and climate disruption

Is it moral to ask people to stop having kids because population growth is one of the major causes of climate disruption worldwide? That’s a difficult question, and one that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports was not on the Poznan agenda last week.

The article quotes NCAR population expert Brian O’Neill as saying “[s]lowing population growth as best we know how will substantially reduce emissions and it will make society better able to cope with climate change.” In other words, even though the Vatican and officially Catholic and Muslim nations want population to be off the table, restricting the number of children a family can have absolutely should be considered.

Any suggestions how to do it without resorting to Chinese authoritarianism?

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Methane hydrate drilling in Alaska

The Christian Science Monitor reported last week on a production drilling test off the Arctic coast of Alaska that aims to extract methane from undersea hydrates. Methane is one of the components of natural gas, and so if the massive deposits of hydrates in the Arctic could be tapped, that could be a huge amount of energy. The problem is this – what happens if the drilling technology destabilizes the hydrates and causes a methane burp? And don’t even think about pulling enough methane out of the hydrate deposits to prevent a hypothetical methane release that could tip over the climate into an ultra-warm cycle – there’s no way we can harvest that much methane and burn it (and even if we could, there’s all that CO2 to get rid of too).

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Freezing permafrost emits methane

Continuing the methane thread, a new paper in Nature (and reported in Science News) found that freezing permafrost releases a large amount of methane when scientists had expected methane releases to have stopped. Torben Christensen, a biogeochemist at Lund University in Sweden and the author of the paper, guessed that the freezing process squeezes the methane out of the permafrost.

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Arctic ice-free by 2015?

The Winnipeg Free Press reports that at least one researcher believes that the Arctic will be seasonally ice-free by 2015. The scientist making this amazing claim is David Barber, a University of Manitoba geoscientist and the lead scientist on a $40 million Arctic ice research project. He bases this claim on research, but especially on the record low ice extent of 2007 and the near record from earlier this year.

For Santa’s sake, I hope he’s wrong. After all, we don’t want to have to raise Santa’s workshop from the bottom of the Arctic ocean….

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Guardian says it may be too late already

The Guardian newspaper put out an excellent summary of the problems facing humanity as a result of AGW, and it’s downright depressing. While regular readers of the Carboholic will find little new in this summary, it’s not often that all the collected ugliness is put together in one place for public consumption.

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Companies not forecasting for climate change

According to the AFP (via Times of the Internet), businesses are not including changes they’ll need to make to address carbon emissions, energy efficiency, etc. This is something that will come back to bite these people in the butts eventually. It’s not a question of if, but rather when.

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