Climate Letter #1147

Sub-Saharan Africa has been losing stored carbon from vegetation on a large scale for the past seven years (Carbon Brief).  It is happening in rainforests, savannahs and woodlands,driven by a series of droughts and deforestation.  The results were gathered using a novel satellite technique, which allowed researchers to measure “deeper below the vegetation canopy” than ever before.  Certain countries experienced an unexpected net gain in carbon density for unusual reasons.  “Migration to urban areas, land abandonment, conflicts and a decrease in wood gathering may play a role [in carbon density gains.”
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A short biography of one of the world’s foremost thinkers about energy and its relation to climate change.  Vaclav Smil, an academic at the University of Manitoba, has written a number of books that tend to be critical of many popular solutions that emphasize technology.  He serves up all sorts of opinions, usually backed up with reasons that have scientific credibility.  He generally thinks people can be quite happy while living at modest level of consumption and income.  Bill Gates is one of his admirers.
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Researchers hope to make plants more productive at collecting and storing CO2.  This article sorts through a number of ideas that have prospects for success by employing conventional engineering, genetic engineering or a combination of the two.  One goal “is to make plants that are 20 times more effective at locking carbon in the soil, and to use those plants to store half of the CO2 humans emit each year.”  Improvement in agricultural yields is of course another goal always watched out for.
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An overview of how hydrogen might gain a key role in the new green economy.  There are commercial interests pursuing some radical new ideas which the author is familiar with and makes a heroic effort to explain—primarily for those with a chemical engineering background.
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Prince Albert II of Monaco is an ardent environmentalist who actively promotes efforts to tackle climate change and ocean pollution.  Devotion to oceanography has a large place in his family tradition, and there is now a Monaco Blue Initiative think tank “that aims to bring together experts and decision makers to find practical solutions” sponsoring a conference in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Carl
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