How Much do Computers Contribute to Climate Warming?

The dirty parts of the computing world (Nathan Ensmenger, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Apr. 11, 2016)

Today we review as assessment of the degree to which computers and computer networks contribute to or pollute with energy use, water consumption, mining and e-waste. In all four categories computer technology plays a significant role with 2 of global electricity use, and 25 tons of e-waste from Western countries alone. A typical desktop computer uses 30% more energy than the standard refrigerator. The computational output from Bitcoin is 256 times the combined capacity of the world’s 500 top supercomputers. In many countries, energy is produced from fuels such as coal and natural gas which produce carbon emissions. Clearly computers should be part of the accounting of the world’s energy, waste and water tallies.

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When Will the Corner Gas Station Disappear?

End Of Gas Stations III: Coming To A Corner Near You (Walker Angell ,, Apr.8, 2016)

Today we review a forward looking article that predicts, on the basis of recent sales of electric vehicles and longer range because of battery technology improvements, that this may well be the last decade that we see, let alone buy an internal combustion engine vehicle. Several car manufacturers are already planning on major increased production of BEVs [battery electric vehicles] by 2020 and the market share of these vehicles has been increasing by 60% per year in recent years. Further, as battery efficiency continues fewer people will buy hybrid cars, preferring to jump to all electric with greater ranges. On the horizon this will have a major and positive impact on urban air quality.

gas station

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Modelling the Best Way to Reduce Global Carbon Emissions

2 °C and SDGs: united they stand, divided they fall? (16 page pdf, Christoph von Stechow, Jan C Minx, Keywan Riahi, Jessica Jewell, David L McCollum, Max W Callaghan, Christoph Bertram, Gunnar Luderer and Giovanni Baiocchi, Environmental Research Letters, Mar. 16, 2016)

Also discussed here: Short-sighted climate policy jeopardizes other UN sustainable development goals (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis News, Mar. 16, 2016)

Today we review the results from 7 “integrated” models which were used to assess 20 scenarios for each decade out to 2050 while considering the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets and the agreement to limit global climate warming to 2 deg C, set out in the recent COP 21 conference in Paris. Some carbon emission reduction strategies have emphasized economic impacts alone, failing to take into account wider social and environmental implications.

Application of carbon pricing to transportation, for example, has a greater potential for lowering emissions in the near term because of the short turn-around needed for technological improvements (e.g. electric vehicles) and the quick responsiveness of users to fuel price changes. On the other hand, a major increase in energy prices can have major impacts on the poor in developing countries, unless their concerns are accommodated in some way.

Another significant finding from this research is the impact of delaying the reduction of energy while waiting for potential non carbon energy technologies to become cost effective and widely used, such as BioEnergy(BE), Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR). The modelling indicates that delaying climate mitigation in the short term, to give time for these technologies to emerge, leads to more risk and costs in the long term if the 2 deg goal is to be met.


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How is Air Pollution Linked to Diabetes and Insulin Sensitivity?

Ambient Air Pollutants Have Adverse Effects on Insulin and Glucose Homeostasis in Mexican Americans (Abstract, Zhanghua Chen, Muhammad T. Salam, Claudia Toledo-Corral, Richard M. Watanabe, Anny H. Xiang, Thomas A. Buchanan, Rima Habre, Theresa M. Bastain, Fred Lurmann, John P. Wilson, Enrique Trigo and Frank D. Gilliland, Diabetes Care, Mar.29, 2016)

Today we review research conducted in Mexico that examined the links between air pollution and insulin sensitivity. Results indicated that short term (under 2 months) exposure to fine particulates (PM2.5) was linked to lower insulin sensitivity and higher cholesterol and this effect was highest with obese patients.

English: idealized curves of human blood gluco...

English: idealized curves of human blood glucose and insulin concentrations during the course of a day containing three meals; in addition, effect of sugar-rich meal is highlighted; (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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The Anthropocene and the Future

The Anthropocene: a conspicuous stratigraphical signal of anthropogenic changes in production and consumption across the biosphere (20 page pdf, MarkWilliams, Jan Zalasiewicz, Colin N.Waters, Matt Edgeworth, Carys Bennett, Anthony D.Barnosky, Erle C. Ellis, Michael A. Ellis, Alejandro Cearreta, Peter K. Haff, Juliana A. Ivar do Sul, Reinhold Leinfelder, John R. McNeill, Eric Odada, Naomi Oreskes, Andrew Revkin, Daniel deB Richter,Will Steffen, Colin Summerhayes, James P. Syvitski, Davor Vidas, Michael Wagreich, Scott L.Wing, Alexander P.Wolfe, and An Zhisheng, AGU Publications – Earth’s Future, Mar. 14, 2016)

Also discussed here: Human impact forms ‘striking new pattern’ in Earth’s global energy flow (ScienceDaily, Mar. 23, 2016)

Today we review a geophysical history of the earth from the days when carbon and biological life were not present, through the evolution of the biosphere over 4 Billion years and photosynthesis to the advent of animal and plant life some 460 million years ago, modern humans 195, 000 years ago to the farming of land 10,000 years ago and the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the beginning of a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. This history not only puts the significance of global climate change into context but it also shows the ways that man has literally changed the world.

anthrocene future

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What is the Local Environmental Impact of Fracking?

Investigating the traffic-related environmental impacts of hydraulic-fracturing (fracking) operations (13 page pdf, Paul S. Goodman, Fabio Galatioto, Neil Thorpe, Anil K. Namdeo, Richard J. Davies, Roger N. Bird, Environment International, Feb. 1, 2016)

Today we review an aspect of fracking, not often investigated: the impact of local fracking wells which is a combination of the air pollution emissions from the fracking itself and the removal of waste water by tanker trucks which adds vehicle emissions and noise. There is a requirement for 9,000 to 29,000 cubic metres per well, or 54,000 to 174,000 cubic metres for a six-well pad. Total CO2 emissions associated with extraction of shale gas from a well were small (0.2–2.9%) compared to the combustion of the gas from the well. Modelling of NOx emissions showed increases reaching 30% over non-fracking periods and noise levels doubling.

fracking traffic

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Literature Review on the Impacts of Climate Change on Infectious Diseases

Impact of climate change on human infectious diseases: Empirical evidence and human adaptation (10 page pdf, Xiaoxu Wu, Yongmei Lu, Sen Zhou, Lifan Chen, Bing Xu, Environment International, Jan. 2016)

Today we review an analysis of literature concerning the links between weather and climate and the spread of infectious diseases which need three ingredients: a pathogen or source, a vector or host and a transmission environment. Climate change can change the geographical and seasonal distribution of diseases while weather (especially extreme weather events) affects the timing and intensity of disease outbreaks. Shifts in precipitation patterns can have impacts on water-borne pathogens while stronger wind patterns can extend the spatial distribution of mosquitoes and the spread of diseases such as malaria.

infectious diseases and ck ch

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