Tag Archives: carbon dioxide

Scientists Revive ‘Zombie’ Virus After 50,000 Years Trapped in Siberian Permafrost

Researchers documented 13 never-before-seen viruses that have been lying dormant, frozen in thick ice, over tens of thousands of years.

By Common Dreams  Published 11-26-2022

Slump D is a massive retrogressive thaw slump on Herschel island., Yukon Territory. Photo: Boris Radosavljevic/flickr/CC

As our world continues to warm up, vast areas of permafrost are rapidly melting, releasing material that’s been trapped for up to a million years. This includes uncountable numbers of microbes that have been lying dormant for hundreds of millennia.

To study these emerging microbes, scientists from the French National Center for Scientific Research have now revived a number of these “zombie viruses” from the Siberian permafrost, including one thought to be nearly 50,000 years old – a record age for a frozen virus returning to a state capable of infecting other organisms.

The team behind the study, led by microbiologist Jean-Marie, says these ancient viruses are potentially a significant threat to public health, and further study needs to be done to assess the danger that these infectious agents could pose as the permafrost melts.

The researchers warned it may just be the tip of the iceberg:

“One-quarter of the Northern Hemisphere is underlain by permanently frozen ground, referred to as permafrost,” researchers wrote in the paper.

“Due to climate warming, irreversibly thawing permafrost is releasing organic matter frozen for up to a million years, most of which decomposes into carbon dioxide and methane, further enhancing the greenhouse effect. Part of this organic matter also consists of revived cellular microbes (prokaryotes, unicellular eukaryotes) as well as viruses that remained dormant since prehistorical times.”

According to Global News:

In 2014, the same researchers unearthed a 30,000-year-old virus trapped in permafrost, the BBC reported. The discovery was groundbreaking because after all that time, the virus was still able to infect organisms. But now, they’ve beaten their own record by reviving a virus that is 48,500 years old.

“If the authors are indeed isolating live viruses from ancient permafrost, it is likely that the even smaller, simpler mammalian viruses would also survive frozen for eons,” virologist Eric Delwart from the University of California, San Francisco told New Scientist.

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

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After COP27, all signs point to world blowing past the 1.5 degrees global warming limit – here’s what we can still do about it

 

Young activists have been pushing to keep a 1.5-Celsius limit, knowing their future is at stake.
AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty

 

Peter Schlosser, Arizona State University

The world could still, theoretically, meet its goal of keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius, a level many scientists consider a dangerous threshold. Realistically, that’s unlikely to happen.

Part of the problem was evident at COP27, the United Nations climate conference in Egypt.

While nations’ climate negotiators were successfully fighting to “keep 1.5 alive” as the global goal in the official agreement, reached Nov. 20, 2022, some of their countries were negotiating new fossil fuel deals, driven in part by the global energy crisis. Any expansion of fossil fuels – the primary driver of climate change – makes keeping warming under 1.5 C (2.7 Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial times much harder. Continue reading

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US Gas Flaring Releases Five Times More Methane Than Previously Thought

“This study adds to the growing body of research that tells us that the oil and gas industry has a flaring problem,” said Jon Goldstein of EDF, which conducted related research on the practice.

By Jessica Corbett  Published 9-29-2022 by Common Dreams

Natural Gas flaring in West Texas oil field. Photo: Jonathan Cutrer/flickr/CC

Flaring, the process of burning natural gas escaping from fossil fuel wells, releases five times more methane than previously believed, according to an analysis of most U.S. operations, published Thursday in the journal Science.

The study, led by researchers at the University of Michigan, is based on data collected during 13 flights over three years at the Bakken oil and gas field in North Dakota as well as the Eagle Ford and Permian fields in Texas—which collectively have over 80% of all U.S. flaring operations. Continue reading

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New Study Warns Swaths of Amazon Have Already Passed Key ‘Tipping Point’

“The tipping point is not a future scenario but rather a stage already present in some areas of the region,” note researchers.

By Jessica Corbett  Published 9-5-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Amazônia Real/flickr/CC

Indigenous leaders and scientists on Monday revealed research showing that the destruction of the Amazon rainforest is so advanced that some swaths may have hit a key tipping point and never recover.

While experts have long warned of human activity causing portions of the massive, biodiverse rainforest to shift to savannah, the new findings were unveiled on the Global Day of Action for the Amazon and the launch of the 5th Amazon Summit of Indigenous Peoples: Solutions for a Living Amazon in Lima, Peru. Continue reading

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How not to solve the climate change problem

This direct air capture plant in Iceland was designed to capture 4,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.
Climeworks 2021 via AP Photos

Kevin Trenberth, University of Auckland

When politicians talk about reaching “net zero” emissions, they’re often counting on trees or technology that can pull carbon dioxide out of the air. What they don’t mention is just how much these proposals or geoengineering would cost to allow the world to continue burning fossil fuels.

There are many proposals for removing carbon dioxide, but most make differences only at the edges, and carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have continued to increase relentlessly, even through the pandemic.

Continue reading

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‘Racing at Top Speed Towards Global Catastrophe’: NOAA Says CO2 Levels Highest in Human History

“We have known about this for half a century, and have failed to do anything meaningful about it,” said one NOAA researcher. “What’s it going to take for us to wake up?”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 6-3-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Gerry Machen/flickr/CC

There is more carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere than at any time in the past four million years, as the world’s continued dependence on fossil fuels keeps humanity hurtling toward a “global catastrophe,” officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned on Friday.

NOAA reports its Mauna Loa Atmospheric Baseline Observatory in Hawaii measured CO2 levels averaging 420.99 parts per million (ppm) in May, an increase of 1.8 ppm over levels at this time last year, while scientists at the San Diego-based Scripps Institute of Oceanography, which also tracks atmospheric CO2, calculated a monthly average of 420.78 ppm. Continue reading

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These machines scrub greenhouse gases from the air – an inventor of direct air capture technology shows how it works

One ‘mechanical tree’ is about 1,000 times faster at removing carbon dioxide from air than a natural tree. The first is to start operating in Arizona in 2022.
Illustration via Arizona State University

Klaus Lackner, Arizona State University

Two centuries of burning fossil fuels has put more carbon dioxide, a powerful greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere than nature can remove. As that CO2 builds up, it traps excess heat near Earth’s surface, causing global warming. There is so much CO2 in the atmosphere now that most scenarios show ending emissions alone won’t be enough to stabilize the climate – humanity will also have to remove CO2 from the air.

The U.S. Department of Energy has a new goal to scale up direct air capture, a technology that uses chemical reactions to capture CO2 from air. While federal funding for carbon capture often draws criticism because some people see it as an excuse for fossil fuel use to continue, carbon removal in some form will likely still be necessary, IPCC reports show. Technology to remove carbon mechanically is in development and operating at a very small scale, in part because current methods are prohibitively expensive and energy intensive. But new techniques are being tested this year that could help lower the energy demand and cost.

We asked Arizona State University Professor Klaus Lackner, a pioneer in direct air capture and carbon storage, about the state of the technology and where it’s headed. Continue reading

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Report Reveals Indigenous Resistance Disrupts Quarter of US and Canadian Emissions

“The numbers don’t lie. Indigenous peoples have long led the fight to protect Mother Earth and the only way forward is to center Indigenous knowledge and keep fossil fuels in the ground.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 9-1-2021

Water protectors stop construction of Energy Transfers Partners’ Bayou Bridge Pipeline in 2017. (Photo:Indigenous Environmental Network)

Indigenous resistance to fossil fuel projects in the United States and Canada over a recent decade has stopped or delayed nearly a quarter of the nations’ annual planet-heating pollution, according to a report released Wednesday.

The greenhouse gas pollution for Turtle Island, the land now known to settler nation-states as North America, totaled 6.56 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2019—5.83 billion metric tons CO2e for the U.S. and 727.43 million metric tons CO2e for Canada. Continue reading

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Atmospheric CO2 Levels Haven’t Been This High in 800,000 Years: NOAA

A major report on climate says both greenhouse gas concentrations and global sea levels hit record highs in 2020.

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 8-25-2021

Flash flood in Belgium – July 2021. Photo: Régine Fabri’Wikimedia/CC

Bolstering the case for meaningful climate action, a major report released Wednesday found that Earth’s atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and sea levels both hit record highs in 2020.

Based on the contributions of more than 530 scientists from over 60 countries and compiled by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), State of the Climate in 2020 is the 31st installment of the leading annual evaluation of the global climate system. Continue reading

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‘Out of Control’: Brazilian Amazon Deforestation Hits Highest Level in a Decade

“At this rate, we will not be able to keep global warming below 1.5ºC, a target defined in the Paris agreement,” said the conservation institute Imazon.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-20-2021

Kayapó Mekragnotire people blockading the BR-163 highway in Pará – 2020. Photo: Avispa Midia

Encouraged by President Jair Bolsonaro, deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest surged to its highest annual level in a decade over the past year, with researchers warning that the accelerated destruction of the critical carbon sink is imperiling the ability to keep planetary heating below the Paris climate agreement’s 1.5ºC target.

Imazon, a Brazilian research institute whose mission is to promote conservation and sustainable development, reported Thursday that from August 2020 to July 2021, 10,476 square kilometers of Amazon rainforest were destroyed, a 57% increase over the previous 12-month period. Continue reading

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