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"A UK project to capture CO2 and bury it under the North Sea looks set to receive a 300m-euro boost from the EU.
The European Commission has confirmed that the White Rose carbon capture and storage (CCS) project is in line to win the cash (equivalent to about £250m).
The gas will be siphoned off from a new coal-fired power station and stored in undersea rock formations.
Climate scientists believe CCS has a key role to play in reducing future CO2 emissions.
Building large-scale demonstration plants that capture carbon from coal or gas and secure it in permanent storage sites has not been easy.
In 2012, the European Union was unable to find a single project to fund when it attempted to spur the development of the technology.
Undeterred, the EU Commission again asked governments to submit written proposals on CCS and, according to officials, the UK has nominated the White Rose project.
As it is the only eligible plan to have been put forward, it is expected that a grant of 300m euros will now be forthcoming in June.
"The UK has confirmed the White Rose CCS project," said an EU spokesman.
(The project will hence be considered for an award expected by mid-2014. If awarded, this project could boost the local economy and create jobs when they are most needed)."

(Posted by +rasha kamel)
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Let's hope they get it to work very soon! We can't afford to wait much longer for carry-on-burning-coal technologies to be made practical.
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"With global climate change and rapidly disappearing habitat critical to the survival of endangered species, there is a sense of urgency to confirm the return of animals thought to be extinct, or to confirm the presence of newly discovered species. Researchers want to change how biologists think about collecting 'voucher' specimens for species identification, suggesting current specimen collection practices pose a risk to vulnerable animal populations nearing extinction".

(Posted by +rasha kamel)
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"Pine forests are chock full of wild animals and plant life, but there's an invisible machine underground. Huge populations of fungi are churning away in the soil, decomposing organic matter and releasing carbon into the atmosphere.
Despite the vital role these fungi play in ecological systems, their identities have only now been revealed. A Stanford-led team of scientists has generated a genetic map of more than 10,000 species of fungi across North America. The work was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Fungi are much more important than most people realize, said Kabir Peay, an assistant professor of biology at Stanford and senior author on the new paper. "They are the primary decomposers in most of the planet's ecosystems," he said, "and if not for them, dead material would accumulate to the point where most other biological processes on Earth would grind to a halt."
Soil fungi can be divided into two primary groups. The saprotrophs live in the top layer of soil, digesting dead matter, breaking up molecules into individual components – converting proteins into amino acids and starches to simple sugars, and freeing up elements such as nitrogen – that plants rely on for growth".

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"Scientists have discovered new relationships between deep-sea temperature and ice-volume changes to provide crucial new information about how the ice ages came about. The researchers found, for the first time, that the long-term trends in cooling and continental ice-volume cycles over the past 5.3 million years were not the same. In fact, for temperature the major step toward the ice ages that have characterized the past two to three million years was a cooling event at 2.7 million years ago, but for ice-volume the crucial step was the development of the first intense ice age at around 2.15 million years ago. Before these results, these were thought to have occurred together at about 2.5 million years ago".

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"A hymn to citizen science, Walden Warming by Richard Primack seeks the reality of climate change in the effects that ordinary people have recorded
IN 2001, at the age of 52, Richard Primack packed the records of 21 years of research on tropical rainforests into a filing cabinet.
Despite a cool reception from his colleagues at Boston University, the professor of biology had decided to leave that research behind, and see what he could do to make the threat of climate change more tangible. He wanted to find evidence of warming that would be so "up close and personal" that people could not remain unconcerned by change that is too slow for most of us to feel.
Primack had a eureka moment early on, which explains why he called his book Walden Warming: Climate change comes to Thoreau's woods. Henry David Thoreau was the 19th-century author of Walden, which gave an account of the time he spent living close to nature in a cabin near Walden Pond, Concord, Massachusetts. His writings of those "delicious" evenings when "the whole body is one sense, and imbibes delight through every pore" were to change the American psyche".

(Posted by +rasha kamel)
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"Scientists were greatly surprised to discover an ancient tundra landscape preserved under the Greenland Ice Sheet, below two miles of ice. This finding provides strong evidence that the ice sheet has persisted much longer than previously known, enduring through many past periods of global warming".

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"Five anthropogenic factors that will radically alter forest conditions and management needs in the Northern United States have been outlined in a new report. "The northern quadrant of the United States includes 172 million acres of forest land and 124 million people," said one researcher. This report (is helping identify the individual and collective steps needed to ensure healthy and resilient futures for trees and people alike)."

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"Half of the world's population now lives in cities - a proportion that's set to rise to two-thirds by 2050. Yet cities are vulnerable to the worst impacts of climate change precisely because their locations are fixed. As the UN's climate panel meets in Berlin, how are urban centres coping with the test?
The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) re-emphasises the vital role cities can play in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. This should come as no surprise, since urban centres are responsible for three quarters of global energy consumption and for 80% of greenhouse gas emissions.
"In a sense, they are the carbon criminals of this world, but they also provide us with really good opportunities," says Prof Tim Dixon from the University of Reading, UK.
One of the ways in which cities can be made greener is through a process called retrofitting. This describes a kind of directed alteration of the built environment to, for example, increase its energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption.
At one level, this might take the form of installing loft and cavity wall insulation, improved boilers, better window glazing or energy-efficient lighting.
But while this already occurs in a piecemeal manner, to be effective, retrofitting must occur on scales greater than individual buildings or even neighbourhoods - there has to be an overarching vision.
"There's no single blueprint that fits every city. But I think successful visions underpin successful cities," says Tim Dixon, who is a researcher on the Retrofit 2050 project".

(Posted by +rasha kamel)
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FWIW. Birmingham City Council, UK, has a target of 60% reduction of GHG emissions by 2027 from 1990 levels.

A quick read shows that most of this municipal plan succeeding depends on a national target being achieved by the national grid without any real municipal action. ie. greenwash. How does your city compare?

It's good that this meeting is in Berlin. Their integrated academic, residential and business park seems like a leading model.

There have been a few combined heat and power buildings renewed  in Birmingham (see the Azimuth wiki on combined heat and power) and I haven't read the transport strategy properly yet.

http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/greencommission

The UK has signed up to the European Renewable Energy Directive, which sets a target of 15% of all energy generated to be sourced from renewable sources by 2020.
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"The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said its modelling suggested a "fairly large potential for an El Nino, most likely by the end of the second quarter of 2014."
"If an El Nino event develops ... it will influence temperatures and precipitation and contribute to droughts or heavy rainfall in different regions of the world," WMO chief Michel Jarraud said in a statement.
The El Nino phenomenon occurs every two to seven years, when the prevailing trade winds that circulate surface water in the tropical Pacific start to weaken.
WMO pointed out Tuesday that since February, trade winds had weakened and there had been a significant warming of the waters below the surface in the central Pacific.
"While there is no guarantee this situation will lead to an El Nino event, the longer the trade winds remain weakened, and sub-surface temperatures stay significantly warmer than average, the higher the likelihood," it said.
Two thirds of climate models predicted that the phenomenon would begin sometime between June and August, with a few suggesting it could start as early as May, and the remainder predicting no El Nino this year, it said.
The last El Nino occurred between June 2009 and May 2010".

(Posted by +rasha kamel)
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Rats.
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"The European Parliament is voting on a bill to draw up a blacklist to fight invasive alien species such as killer shrimp and Japanese knotweed spreading.
There will be a ban on the possession, transport, selling or growing of species deemed as of "Union Concern".
The list was going to be restricted to 50, but will now have no limit. It is not clear which species will be banned.
A deal between EU member states effectively means the bill will pass and become law within a few months.
This comes as MPs slam current government policy on controlling alien species as (not fit for purpose)".

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Is this going to cover bankers, financiers and other parasites?
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Scientists and engineers helping save the planet.
Introduction
The Azimuth Project is an international collaboration to create a focal point for scientists and engineers interested in saving the planet. Our goal is to make clearly presented, accurate information on the relevant issues easy to find, and to help people work together on our common problems.  We need your help! 

The Azimuth Project includes a wiki, a blog, and a discussion forum

This Azimuth page here on Google+ lets you keep track of news related to energy, the environment and sustainability.  Posts on this page are written by Rasha Kamel, John Baez, Jim Stuttard, Frederik De Roo and David Tanzer.  The posts reflect the individual authors views and taste; we don't agree about everything!