Earth Sciences

Earlier this month, the U.S. Energy Information released a report projecting that by 2040, world energy consumption will have grown by 48% from 2012 levels.  

That sounds like a terrific advancement for developing nations.  We worry about water in other countries, we worry about food, we worry about education and culture. Every single one of those is resolved with affordable energy. Energy is the great equalizer and America's second most important strategic resource after, obviously, food. 
The Australian dairy farming industry is in a state of crisis. Cheap dairy products and fluctuations in both the domestic and global markets have taken a financial toll on farmers. Consumers have rallied to help struggling dairy producers.

But this is only half the problem. The true cost of dairy is also paid by dairy cows and the environment.

We’re not even halfway through the year but already you may have heard talk of 2016 being the hottest on record. But how can scientists be so sure we’re going to beat the previous record, set just last year?

SAR11 are the most abundant plankton in the world's oceans. They are also a massive source of two sulfur gases that play important roles in the Earth's atmosphere.


In the wake of the damaging Alberta fires, there has been a lot of attention paid to what role climate change plays in wildfires. Yet 2016 is also a powerful El Niño year, which has created ideal conditions for the extraordinary fires in Alberta.

So what climate phenomena could have led to the persistent warm, dry conditions and the extreme fire events?

I have analyzed weather trend data and found that higher temperatures and lower precipitation created the conditions for the extensive fires. It is by looking at exactly when those warmer months occur that we can begin to sort out the role of El Niño versus climate change.

A new study has implicated farms as a bigger source of fine-particulate air pollution than all other sources. This is no surprise in Europe, China, Russia and Europe, since food is the most important strategic resource everywhere. 

And it's an easy enough problem to solve. As technology continues to improve, emissions will go down anyway, so fumes from nitrogen-rich fertilizers and animal waste that combine in the air with industrial emissions to form solid particles could double and particulate matter would still go down. 


The Obama administration released new limits on methane emissions from oil and gas wells that are even tougher than the industry expected - $530 million more per year than the already high costs. 25 percent more. The government, meanwhile, claims their new regulations will make money because this will stop storms, floods and other consequences of climate change. Yes, a government regulation on methane will change the weather.

Longer, hotter, more regular heat waves could impact crop production in Africa, warn climate scientists in a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Located between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, Africa experiences high levels of solar radiation all year round and heat waves can occur in any season, not just during summer months. Running climate models through to 2075, the scientists found that heat waves could occur as frequently as four times per year towards the end of the century. In other words, one dangerously hot spell for every season of the year. 


Sea-level rise, erosion and coastal flooding are some of the greatest challenges facing humanity from climate change.

Recently at least five reef islands in the remote Solomon Islands have been lost completely to sea-level rise and coastal erosion, and a further six islands have been severely eroded.

These islands lost to the sea range in size from one to five hectares. They supported dense tropical vegetation that was at least 300 years old. Nuatambu Island, home to 25 families, has lost more than half of its habitable area, with 11 houses washed into the sea since 2011.

I had drinks with an old college friend last week. As we reminisced and I caught him up on my job leading the Tropical Ecology Assessment&Monitoring (TEAM) Network, he stopped me mid-sentence.