The scientists are scared
We are getting closer to the point where we may have to employ emergency engineering solutions to cool the planet, according to panelists at a geoengineering session during last week's Aspen Environment Forum.
The economic climate is right for redefining the automobile industry, Elizabeth Lowery, vice president for environment, energy, and safety policy at General Motors said last week at the Aspen Environment Forum.
Electric cars are the short-term solution to wean the world off of gas and oil and in return reduce the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that are driving climate change, according to a panel at the Forum on the future of transportation.
Just six days into the job, Jane Lubchenco, the new head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), tells National Geographic "there is a great urgency in addressing [ocean] acidification by reducing CO2 emissions."
"The decisions that individuals make every day add up to affect our global climate," Lubchenco added. "The changes we are seeing now are influenced by our energy choices and uses over the last couple hundred years."
Oceans serve as a carbon sink, absorbing about a third of human-generated carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The additional CO2 changes the chemical composition and lowers the pH of the seas. Acidic waters can prevent some marine life from producing calcium carbonate needed for shells and exoskeletons.
Lubchenco, a marine biologist and former Oregon State University professor, was at the Aspen Environment Forum in Colorado yesterday to talk about climate change politics and science.
On a Rocky Mountain day that saw cloudy skies and several inches of powder, solar energy experts gathered at the Aspen Environment Forum encouraged conference participants to turn sunlight, normally abundant in Colorado, into profit.
Solar power is expected to be a growth market, in both developed and developing countries.
While captured sunlight will never account for the bulk of energy on a global or regional scale, it could provide up to 25 percent of U.S. energy needs and play an important role in delivering energy to poorer countries, said Neville Williams, founder of several solar companies and the author of Chasing the Sun.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2007, solar energy accounted for less than one percent of total American energy use.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson outlines her priorities and tells National Geographic that the EPA is back, ready to protect human health and the environment, despite the bumpy road ahead.
Jackson told a crowd of more than two hundred Aspen Environment Forum participants last night that EPA's top strategy for tackling climate change is to work with Congress on legislation, instead of focusing on amendments to the Clean Air Act that would allow regulation of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases.
The 2009 Aspen Environment Forum—focused on sustainable energy—kicks off today in Colorado.
Wal-Mart executives, green building experts, climate scientists, Economist and Washington Post reporters, and government officials from Mozambique, Panama, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, among many others, will mingle among the mountains as they discuss climate change, energy extraction and use, innovation and technology, efficiency, and conservation.
Canadian Inuit activist and Nobel Prize nominee Sheila Watt-Cloutier says those at the top of the world acutely feel the effects of global warming. See her interview.
Climatologist Konrad Steffen talks about the surprising speed of ice loss in Greenland. Steffen, a professor at the University of Colorado, has spent each summer for 27 years measuring changes to the Greenland ice sheet. Watch his interview.
Josh Dorfman, author of The Lazy Environmentalist, explains that fighting climate change doesn't require busy, stressed-out people to change their nature. He provides tips on finding environmentally friendly goods and services. Watch his interview.
Photographer James Balog talks about the Extreme Ice Survey, which employs dozens of cameras shooting photos every hour during daylight to record melting glaciers in the northern hemisphere. See his interview and photos.
National Geographic Emerging Explorer Alexandra Cousteau discusses climate change and the oceans, and how individuals can make a difference. See her interview.
Naturalist E. O. Wilson warns that climate change will lead to greater loss of habitat and increased species loss if action isn't taken. See the interview.
Dozens of researchers, activists, and explorers gather this week at the Aspen Environment Forum to discuss global climate change. The speakers and panelists are talking about current signs, what the future might look like, and what might be done to lessen the impact.
"The effect [of global warming] on biological diversity could be catastrophic, and it would be a form of habitat loss that rivals that caused by deforestation," says naturalist E. O. Wilson. "We're headed for a brick wall ... and we want to hit it at a survivable speed."
Despite his concern, Wilson maintains a sense of optimism shared by others at the conference. You can see our interviews with individual speakers here—and you can watch sessions from the conference at the Aspen Institute's site.
Our site's visitors have also contributed to our coverage. In this video edited by producer John Kondis, you can see photos from the natural world submitted by Your Shot photographers. The represent just a small sample of what's at risk as we see accelerating climate change, and what's worth protecting.