global warming

Greening the Planet: The Fertilizer Effect of CO2 Slows Warming

A new study led by UC Berkeley Lab researcher Trevor Keenan suggests that increased plant growth is slowing the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a finding that could help explain the mystery of why the uptick in CO2 concentrations has leveled off since 2002, even as emissions have increased. “We believed one of the planet’s main carbon sinks had unexpectedly strengthened,” Keenan explained in a Lab press release. “The question was: which one?”

From the Winter 2016 Reality Bites issue of California.

Strip It and Stash It: Climate Scientists Focus on Extracting the Carbon Already in Our Air

For decades, most of the strategizing about how to slow down climate change has focused on cutting emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, mainly by shifting away from fossil fuels. Other proposals range from reducing meat consumption (cattle belch massive quantities of methane, a potent greenhouse gas) to curtailment of chlorofluorocarbons (compounds that both retain heat and destroy atmospheric ozone) in refrigerants and aerosols. 

Setting Misery to Music: Collaboration Lets Listeners “Hear” Effects of Climate Change

As the 2015 U.N. climate change conference continues in the outskirts of Paris—pursuing a global agreement to slow down the devastating effects of global warming—there will be graphs. There will be charts. There will be slideshows.

But if presenters really want to tug at a world leader’s heartstrings, they might want to bring a violin. Break out a synthesizer, a keyboard, and play a snippet of what climate change sounds like: Earth, out of tune and distorted, an orchestra gone a little haywire.

How the University of California is Playing a Unique Role in Global Race Against Warming

The Golden Bear has taken on a distinct greenish tinge this week. First there was the announcement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference outside Paris that the University of California is the sole university participant in Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a conglomerate of investors dedicated to developing low-carbon energy sources. UC will dedicate $1.25 billion to the venture over the next five years.

Startup Wants University Endowments to Lend Money so Homeowners Can Go Solar

A new startup founded by two UC Berkeley Haas Business School students aims to give homeowners going solar the leverage to affect more than just the environment.

Window Street Financial—which emerged last fall from an idea generated by Johnny Gannon and Ben Purvis—wants to give them the option of taking a solar loan made up of capital from the endowments of universities, nonprofits and foundations.

Turbo-Charging Cloud Research: Now It’s Easier to Decipher Clues to Climate Change

For most people, clouds are mere grist for metaphor, as with Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now.” But clouds have deep implications beyond late 1960s pop music lyrics. Geophysical implications. Their frequency, type, direction, density and velocity all say a great deal about weather, climate—even atmospheric ozone depletion. The problem is that it’s hard to draw a bead on clouds, to obtain the precise measurements in real time that can translate into useful data. They are clouds, after all: nebulous, evanescent—indeed, vaporous.

GMOs: Research Says They’ll Help End Starvation, but Americans Remain Wary

With global warming, drought and the shrinkage of American farmland, will there be enough food to feed the world? It’s a question with which experts are consumed—and should be. “Millions of people are going to die from climate change,” says Kathryn De Master, a UC Berkeley assistant professor of agriculture, society and the environment.

And experts say some of those millions are going to starve.

Cool Play: Innovator Aims to Combat Global Warming From the Rooftops Down

George Ban-Weiss is all about being cool: Not only does coolness figuratively define his work as a professional jazz bassist, it almost literally defines his career as a scientist.

His work was pivotal in persuading the city of Los Angeles to require this year that new and renovated residential rooftops be “cool roofs”—reflecting rather than absorbing the sun’s heat. It’s an idea that could someday spread throughout California and other sun-soaked metropolises.

Doomsday 3: California May Oscillate Between Drastic Droughts and Deluges

Editors’ Note:  The Summer 2014 issue of California magazine is called “This is the End.” Every day this week: a different catastrophic scenario.

California’s climate, long known for having a sunny, likeable disposition, is poised to become a major bad actor. As anthropogenic climate change threatens the Sierra Nevada snowpack and brings even more uncertainty to a region already prone to extreme drought and flooding, catastrophic weather events may define our future.

From the Summer 2014 Apocalypse issue of California.

Igniting Protest: Will UC Make History By Pulling the Plug on Fossil Fuel Investments?

When 29-year-old UC Berkeley student Ophir Bruck spotted Sherry Lansing, the former CEO of Paramount Pictures, on her way to a University of California Regents meeting, he was holding on to a key that he hoped she wouldn’t refuse.

“We’re here to call on the UC Regents to take bold action on climate change,” Bruck told Lansing last May, as she walked past 58 chanting students chained to two homemade structures designed to represent oil drilling rigs. “Will you symbolically unlock us from a future of fossil fuel dependence and climate chaos?”

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