Carbon dioxide emissions always sag at times of major economic crisis, as the world’s industry pauses for breath. The oil crisis of the late 1970s, the recession of the early 1980s, the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991 — all of them dampened global CO2 output. The global financial crisis of 2008–2009 was no exception. But as an analysis published today in Nature Climate Change and also at the Global Carbon Project’s website notes, carbon emissions have already rebounded as if the crisis never happened. The recovery has been more rapid than from any other economic downturn in the past half-century (see chart, adapted from Nature Climate Change).
When it rains it pours on the US Department of Energy. First Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry says he wants to dismantle it (though he couldn’t quite remember that at the crucial moment in a recent Republican debate). Then the department’s own inspector general releases a report recommending a large-scale restructuring of the agency (details below). And today, director Steven Chu found himself on Capitol Hill for more than three hours defending the agency’s investment in the failed solar concern, Solyndra Corporation. Read more
As the evening sets in here in London, and dawn approaches in Japan, the situation at the nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi remains extremely precarious. According to the latest update from the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF), all three reactors still have their fuel exposed. Worryingly, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has put out just one release today about the fire in unit four at Daiichi (at least in English releases). TEPCO makes no mention of the troubled reactors, or the radiation situation on site. The Nuclear Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) has also not put out any English releases today. This may indicate that the company and regulators have their hands full. Then again, they may have just given their translators a break.
Funding for research on neglected diseases reached $3.26 billion in 2009. But the author of a new report on the subject is warning that governments appear to have given priority to funding their own researchers over the public-private partnerships which attempt to turn research into useable products.
The BBC has a story pegged to the upcoming 25th anniversary of the meltdown of reactor number four at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Ukraine. The report contains the usual haunting imagery from the accident, but it also details a cash shortfall facing a new shelter being planned to replace the hastily built “sarcophagus” that encases reactor number four and the 200 tonnes of radioactive fuel that remains inside its core. The so-called New Safe Confinement (NSC) enclosure, is a massive sliding arch that is supposed to cover the reactor for the next 100 years.
ITER, world’s largest fusion project, is feeling as squeezed as hot plasma in a tokamak. But it isn’t superconducting magnets applying the pressure, it’s the European Parliament, which this week rejected a plan to cover a €1.4 billion (US$1.8 billion) gap in the project’s construction budget.
Silicon Valley’s richest barons are lining up to fight for California’s climate change laws, as the good, the bad and the ugly all pick sides in the fight over ‘Prop 23’.
Voters in California are deciding on 2 November whether to pass Proposition 23, which would suspend laws clamping down on greenhouse gas emissions.
A highly respected palaeontology group based at London’s Natural History Museum may escape the chop after an international campaign to ensure its future.