Taxonomy term

carbon dioxide

Still in a haze: What we don't know about black carbon

Black carbon — fine particles of soot in the atmosphere produced from the burning of fossil fuels or biomass — has been known to be a health hazard for decades, a major contributor to the thick hazes of pollution hovering over cities around the world.

14 Mar 2011

Greening the friendly skies

If you’re a frequent flyer, the script of plane travel is probably so familiar you may mumble it along with the flight attendant: “Please raise your tray tables and return your seatbacks to their full upright position. We’re beginning our descent.” The sounds of that descent are probably just as familiar: The whir of landing gear descending, the loud drone of engine power rising and falling as the plane makes a series of stair-step descents to lower and lower altitudes before landing on the runway.

02 Nov 2010

The rising global interest in coal fires

In eastern India, north of the Damodar River, approximately 70 fires are burning in the Jharia coalfield, the largest coalmine fire complex in the world. The majority of fires in Jharia ignite when coal, exposed to air during mining operations, spontaneously combusts. Particulate matter and noxious gases emitted from the burning coal — including sulfur, carbon and nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons released at the surface from gas vents, ground fissures and the soil — have caused illnesses that range from stroke to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

01 Sep 2010

Comment: Volcanic versus anthropogenic carbon dioxide: The missing science

“Volcanoes add far more carbon dioxide to the oceans and atmosphere than humans.” So says geologist Ian Plimer of the University of Adelaide in his 2009 best seller “Heaven and Earth: Global Warming — the Missing Science.” With this assertion, Plimer brings volcanic carbon dioxide degassing front and center in the climate change debate, reviving and reinforcing this wildly mistaken notion.

30 Jul 2010

Voices: Must we capture and store carbon from coal to meet emission-reduction targets?

Last Wednesday, Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman unveiled a comprehensive energy bill (PDF) called the American Power Act. The central purpose of the proposed legislation (along with a similar bill passed by the House of Representatives in June 2009) is to significantly curb the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions.

18 May 2010

Hot as Hell: Firefighting foam heats up coal fire debate in Centralia, Pa.

By some accounts, Hell on Earth is located directly below Centralia, Pa.: Smoke rises from the cracked ground, smoldering sinkholes open without warning, and what is left of the town’s abandoned houses and surrounding woodlands is scorched and covered in a layer of smelly sulfur. Once a productive mining town in eastern Pennsylvania’s valuable anthracite coal region, Centralia has been reduced to a smoky ghost town, lacking even a zip code, by an underground coal fire that has been burning for nearly 50 years.

05 May 2010

Shell-shocked: How different creatures deal with an acidifying ocean

To survive in the ocean, soft-bodied organisms must possess one of five traits: big teeth, toxic flesh, invisibility, quickness or a hard shell. Most marine organisms that employ the latter, called calcifiers, build their hard shells from the mineral calcium carbonate. However, increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are making the oceans more acidic — which, in turn, is reducing the concentration of carbonate ions dissolved in seawater that organisms use to build their protective shells and skeletons.

10 Mar 2010

Blogging on EARTH: A proposed twist on carbon trades at AGU

SAN FRANCISCO: In the ongoing climate negotiations, one issue that keeps coming up is that developing countries should be held to the same standards as the developed world.

But that’s not quite fair, say Steven Davis and Ken Caldeira (both at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, Calif.): Much of the carbon dioxide emitted by those developing countries goes into producing goods that are exported to the developed world — which means the developing world ends up paying for others’ consumerism. In other words, we’re outsourcing our carbon dioxide emissions.

14 Dec 2009

Storing CO2 in fizzy water underground

Burying carbon dioxide in underground geologic formations is an attractive option for dealing with increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But before employing such schemes, researchers need to be sure that the greenhouse gas will actually stay put. Scientists have done everything from computer modeling to pumping vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the subsurface to find out if — and how — the gas might be trapped, but gauging how sealed the formations are over geologic time scales is difficult.

10 Nov 2009

Nanoscale carbon capture

Thanks to a bit of luck, the key to carbon sequestration may lie in a circular, bowl-shaped compound that draws carbon dioxide right out of the air.

27 Oct 2009