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global warming

 "Global Warming" Gets a PR Makeover

How much does unappealing language hold back messages about global warming, um, I mean the "deteriorating atmosphere?" That's what the nonprofit PR firm ecoAmerica set out to study. Its findings suggested that no, people don't want to hear about "global warming," or even "climate change" -- it makes them freeze up and think about Al Gore -- but they wouldn't mind listening to a few value-focused "talking points." Although the ecoAmerica study was just released yesterday, it's already been around the block a few times. About a month ago, a summary meant for government officials and environmental leaders was accidentally e-mailed to several news outlets, including the New York Times. More recently, Grist reported on the document, which focuses on nearly every environmental buzzword out there. See more »

 10 Planet Hacking Schemes -- No. 1: Man-made Volcanoes

My father-in-law is a fan of the site and loves discussing article topics with me. A couple of months back, we wound up discussing methods of tinkering with the environment and brought up the ridiculous notion of setting off nuclear weapons to counter global warming. I blogged about this a while ago. Anyway, my father-in-law recommended another strategy: set off some volcanoes. See more »

 10 Planet Hacking Schemes -- No. 7: Space Mirrors

Yesterday we talked about taking some of the heat out of global warming by planting reflective crops. The more solar radiation we reflect, the less is emitted as terrestrial radiation to heat up the green house gases in our atmosphere. But I know what you're thinking: Can't we just launch massive space mirrors into orbit and preemptively keep the sunlight from entering our atmosphere? Well, it's certainly one of the planet hacking options on the table. University of Calgary environmental scientist Dr. David Keith is a big supporter of this geoengineering approach to fixing the planet. Keith presented the idea at a 2007 climate change conference in Cambridge, Mass. Need to prevent ice from melting on Greenland? Simply throw some space mirrors up there to provide some shade. The potential cooling factor for this planet hacking scheme is immense, but the challenges and risks involved are obvious. See more »

 The Oceans Are Getting Saltier

The oceans are getting saltier, and it's apparently in direct response to man-made climate change. Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring and attribution at the Met Office in Exeter, England, determined this after studying 50 years' worth of data and comparing it to climate models "that correct for naturally occurring salinity variations," according to ScienceDaily. Stott and his team found that global warming resulting from man-made emissions (as opposed to emissions from natural sources like volcano eruptions) were likely responsible for the increasing salinity of the North Atlantic. Slight rises in salinity -- less than 1 percent -- have already been recorded in subtropical regions of the Atlantic. Stott hypothesizes that global warming is changing the patterns of rainfall across the planet: As high temperatures zap away water in subtropical zones, the atmosphere carries that extra moisture toward the poles, as well as toward the Pacific via the trade winds. See more »

 EPA: Greenhouse Gases Endanger Health

This just in: Greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare. That probably sounds like old news to most folks. After all, we've known about global warming and its dangerous effects for years now (everything from pollution-related asthma to temperature-related outbreaks of disease). But the obvious just became official with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed "endangerment finding," a document sent to the White House Friday. According to Reuters, labeling greenhouse gases a threat to human well-being could be the first step to regulating U.S. emissions. The potential to do so, however, has been there for a while. Back in 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA could regulate greenhouse gases -- if it determined the pollutants threatened human health. While the agency's scientists concluded that the gases did pose a risk, it kept mum with official findings until now. See more »

 Global Warming Vs. Nuclear Winter

In writing a recent article about nuclear winter, I ran across this outrageous statement quite a bit: "Couldn't we just cancel out global warming with nuclear winter?" The short answer? Yes. And you can also cure a hangnail with a meat cleaver, though it's probably not quite the fix you're looking for. To be fair, no one is seriously advocating the use of thermonuclear weapons to save the environment. Most of the time, the suggestion is either a thoughtless joke or a shot at the theoretic (and therefore fallible) aspects of both global warming and nuclear winter. When it comes to understanding our atmosphere, there's a whole lot of room to wind up getting it wrong. See more »