The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

Displaying items by tag: greenhouse gas

Monday, 11 October 2021 13:17

Permafrost is a ticking methane bomb

Smithsonian: In Russia, even rocks emit greenhouse gases

The melting Siberian tundra north of the Arctic Circle released millions of tons of methane last year as regional temperatures rose to 11 degrees (F) above average.

Methane has a shorter effect than carbon dioxide on global atmospheric change but is still 70 times more potent than CO2 in its overall global-warming potential. Its accelerated release on such a vast scale represents an immediate challenge to restricting overall global warming to less than 3 degrees (fF) by the end of the century, which scientists agree is necessary to prevent dramatic climate change. Methane’s potent global warming potential is why many conservationists oppose the use of natural gas as an energy source.

But in Siberia, even the rocks are emitting methane. Scientists were surprised to find that limestone exposed by disappearing permafrost itself generated high levels of methane. Tundra fires have also accelerated the release of methane and other gases, and have come at great cost to the Russian government and the rural inhabitants of the vast region.

That means economical and practical means must be developed elsewhere, at least, for methane management.

But according to the United Nations Economic Council for Europe:

“Despite methane’s short residence time, the fact that it has a much higher warming potential than CO2 and that its atmospheric volumes are continuously replenished make effective methane management a potentially important element in countries’ climate change mitigation strategies. As of today, however, there is neither a common technological approach to monitoring and recording methane emissions, nor a standard method for reporting them.“

Published in Feedbag

In the spirit of Thinking Globally, Acting Locally, consider what you can do to help Mother Earth and its inhabitants.

Adopting a more sustainable life style to reduce one’s personal ecological footprint is easier to wish for than to accomplish. Some measures that would reap a significant  environmental benefit, such as making a home more energy efficient, may require a substantial investment of physical effort, time and money that will pay back over time only.

Deliberate choice of clothing, however, is a simple course of action for anyone to start making a big difference in social justice, climate impacts and environmental conservation.

The fashion industry is responsible for around 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions — more than maritime shipping and international flights combined!

World production of clothing has doubled in the last 15 years. Until the 1950s, it was common for garments to be used until worn out after having been passed along to second and third wearers. Nowadays, that’s a rare exception. Most items end up in a landfill within days or weeks after having been purchased and worn just a few times. Massive amounts of overstock items are routinely discarded, not having been used once.

Low prices — made possible by cheap synthetic fibers produced with fossil fuels and by sweatshops that churn out textiles under often inhumane conditions — contributed to this relatively new phenomenon of consumerism.

Along with single-use packaging, plastic fibers common in today’s textiles are a major source of invisible microplastic fragments that float in the air we breathe and get into the water that leaves the washing machines. Some of these particles may absorb toxic chemicals and be taken up and accumulated by fish, livestock and, eventually, humans.

Sustainable Jungle, an Australian nonprofit, has an excellent article about the global predicaments caused by the fashion industry. This is a treasure trove of great ideas, practical suggestions, experiences and links to further how-to instructions. It will not only help you get off the fast-fashion treadmill, it will aid you in discovering or creating a style that accentuates your personality.

Sustainable Jungle: How to Avoid Fast Fashion
See also ScienceDirect: Plasticenta — First evidence of microplastics in human placenta
Published in Action Alert
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGreat Smoky Mountains National Park Air Resource Specialist is seen at the Look Rock air quality research station.   Courtesy National Park Service

The lack of regional and local vehicle traffic during the pandemic greatly reduced measurable pollution in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

This is your Hellbender weekend read, and the first in an occasional Hellbender Press series about the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the natural world

Great Smoky Mountains National Park shut down for six weeks in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic. Recorded emissions reductions during that period in part illustrate the role motor vehicles play in the park's vexing air-quality issues. The full cascade of effects from the pollution reductions are still being studied.

Hellbender Press interviewed park air quality specialist Jim Renfro about the marked reduction of carbon dioxide and other pollutants documented during the park closure during the pandemic, and the special scientific opportunities it presents.  He responded to the following questions via email.

Hellbender Press: You cited “several hundred tons" in pollutant reductions during an interview with WBIR of Knoxville (in 2020). What types of air pollutants does this figure include? 

Published in Air