Blog Archives

Follow the Carbon: Find the Biggest Greenhouse Gas Emitters Near You

An interactive map with fresh data and more selective features

US EPA

Detail from EPA's interactive map of greenhouse gas emitters.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has just made tracking greenhouse gases a lot easier. The agency has produced its own map of major GHG producers, with fresh data and customizable features.

Two years ago, when we produced our map of California emitters for Climate Watch, we had to cobble it together with raw data from the state Air Resources Board emissions inventory, numbers that were relatively hard to find and infrequently updated. The EPA’s new map allows you to select your state, zoom into specific regions and view emissions by type and volume. Continue reading

How Plastic Trees Could Help Pull Carbon Dioxide Out of the Air

We know that real trees soak up carbon from the atmosphere — but fake trees?

Kimberly Ayers

And you thought plastic palm trees had no redeeming value...

A cheap plastic that removes carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere? “Yes,” says a team of chemists at the University of Southern California’s  (USC) Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute, led by Nobel Prize winner George Olah. Science Now reports on their work with an inexpensive polymer called polyethylenimine or PEI.

But how to maximize its absorption capabilities? Olah’s team dissolved the polymer in a solvent and spread it out, peanut-butter-style, on fumed silica — you know, like the stuff in those desiccant packets in your electronics packaging (“Do not eat,” by the way).  It’s also used as a stabilizer for lipstick and other make-up.

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A Few May Lose Big as Delta Changes: How to Contain the Cost

A new report warns that some islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta may not be worth saving.

California Department of Water Resources

Increased flood risk in the Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta has people worried about the economic impact on the farmers and residents located there.

Here’s the bad news for Delta farmers: A new report concludes that the worst climate impacts on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta could affect a relatively small number of people — the farmers whose land is below sea level and protected by a vast system of levees. Maintaining and repairing those levees falls on local reclamation districts, which can’t necessarily count on state or federal bailouts in the event of catastrophic flooding in the future. It can be expensive if a levee breaks. The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) studied the economic impacts of changes to the fragile Delta ecosystem and has produced some recommendations that are not likely to warm the hearts of some Delta landowners. Continue reading