Daily Archives: December 8, 2013

Geoengineering to Reduce Climate Change May Severely Impact Rainfall Patterns

Catherine Griffin
First Posted: Dec 08, 2013 06:33 PM EST

(Photo : Flickr/Paul Albertella)

As our climate changes, geoengineering is becoming an option that seems more and more attractive. But is this process really an option? Scientists have discovered that reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the planet’s surface through this technique may not undo climate change after all and may instead have unwanted effects on Earth’s rainfall patterns.

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Climate change and global warming itself is altering Earth’s water cycle. More water evaporates as temperatures increase, which can dry out some regions while causing more rain to fall in others due to the excess moisture in the atmosphere. The more water evaporates per degree of warming, the stronger the influence of increasing temperature on the water cycle is. Yet in order to find specifically how the water cycle reacts, the scientists used a simple energy balance model.

The researchers examined how sensitive the water cycle is to an increase in surface temperature due to a stronger greenhouse effect and to an increase in solar radiation. The scientists predicted the response of the water cycle for two cases and found that in the former, evaporation increased by 2 percent per degree of warming. In the later, this number reached 3 percent.

“These different responses to surface heating are easy to explain,” said Axel Kleidon, one of the researchers, in a news release. “The temperature in the pot is increased by putting on a lid or by turning up the heat–but these two cases differ by how much energy flows through the pot.” For example, a stronger greenhouse effect puts a thicker “lid” over Earth’s surface, but if there’s no addition sunlight then extra evaporation takes place solely due to the increase in temperature. Turning up the heat by increasing solar radiation, though, enhances the energy flow through Earth’s surface because of the need to balance the greater energy input with stronger cooling fluxes from the surface. As a result, there’s more evaporation and a stronger effect on the water cycle.

These findings don’t just have implications for climate change, though. They also have implications for geoengineering. Many geoengineering approaches aim to reduce global warming by reducing the amount of sunlight reaching Earth’s surface. Yet when the scientists applied their results to this geoengineering scenario, they discovered that this approach is unlikely to restore the planet’s original climate.

“It’s like putting a lid on the pot and turning down the heat at the same time,” said Kleidon in a news release. “While in the kitchen you can reduce your energy bill by doing so, in the Earth system this slows down the water cycle with wide-ranging potential consequences.”

….(read more).

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120

Robert Stavins on Beyond Kyoto: An Economic Perspective on International Climate Policy


Uploaded on Sep 28, 2011

About the Speaker:

Leading environmental economist, Robert Stavins, is the Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government at the internationally renowned Belfer Center, Harvard, and Director of the Harvard Program on Climate Agreements. He is an expert on the dynamics of the UN climate negotiations.

A regular contributor to the New York Times and the Huffington Post, he is the editor of two influential books on the subject

How Farmers Markets Can Change the World: Shir Halpern at TEDxIDC

E120, e145, food-matters,

Robert Stavins: Beyond Kyoto


Published on Apr 5, 2012

Wellesley College Presents the Calderwood Lecture in Economics:

Beyond Kyoto: An Economic Perspective on Climate Changes
Robert Stavins,
Professor of Business and Government & Director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120

Interview with Robert N. Stavin


Published on Jun 3, 2013

Robert N. Stavins has been one of the most influential voices in environmental economics and policy over the past two decades. The 26 essays in his new book, “Economics of Climate Change And Environmental Policy” originally appeared in a diverse set of leading, scholarly periodicals, and are collected here for the first time.

This book is divided into seven parts: overview; methods of environmental policy analysis; economic analysis of environmental policy instruments; economics and technical change; natural resource economics — land and water; domestic climate change policy; and international climate change policy. The book begins with an introductory essay in which Stavins reflects on the professional path that led to his research and writing and identifies common themes that emerge from this period of research.

Students, scholars, practitioners and policymakers will find this volume a valuable and very useful addition to their collection.

Sponsored by HKS Library and Knowledge Services — http://www.hks.harvard.edu/library/

More information: http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/p…

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120

We Can Now solve the 10,000 Year Old Problem of Agriculture: Wes Jackson at TEDxOverlandPark


Published on Jan 18, 2013

Wes Jackson, President of The Land Institute, was born in 1936 on a farm near Topeka, Kansas. After attending Kansas Wesleyan (B.A Biology, 1958), he studied botany (M.A. University of Kansas, 1960) and genetics (Ph.D. North Carolina State University, 1967). He was a professor of biology at Kansas Wesleyan and later established the Environmental Studies department at California State University, Sacramento, where he became a tenured full professor. He resigned that position in 1976 and returned to Kansas to found The Land Institute.

Dr. Jackson’s writings include both papers and books. His most recent works, Nature as Measure (2011) and Consulting the Genius of the Place: An Ecological Approach to a New Agriculture (2010), were both published by Counterpoint Press. The Virtues of Ignorance: Complexity, Sustainability, and the Limits of Knowledge (2008) and Rooted in the Land: Essays on Community and Place (1996), were co-edited with William Vitek. Becoming Native to This Place, 1994, sketches his vision for the resettlement of America’s rural communities. Altars of Unhewn Stone appeared in 1987 and Meeting the Expectations of the Land, edited with Wendell Berry and Bruce Colman, was published in 1984. New Roots for Agriculture, 1980, outlines the basis for the agricultural research at The Land Institute.

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120
Food-Matters http://Food-Matters.TV

Why Sustainable Farming Matters: Dean Carlson at TEDxPhoenixville


Published on Jan 4, 2013

Dean is a 1994 graduate of the University of Chicago with an AB in Economics. After being a floor based derivative market maker for a few years, he moved to Philadelphia and then Dublin to trade convertible bond securities. Always bothered by the assumption of infinite growth in the field of economics, Dean became interested in how this assumption affects agriculture. After discovering the concept of sustainable agriculture, Dean changed careers and became a full time farmer. He purchased the 350+ acre Wyebrook Farm in Northern Chester County and set out to farm it sustainably. He raises 100% grass fed beef, heritage breed pigs in the woods and poultry out on pasture. Dean and his team sell hand-butchered meats in a fully restored 18th century stone barn on the property. Dean believes that it is important for people to have a real connection with their food and that buying food from the place it originated is a satisfying way to do this.


Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120
Food-Matters http://Food-Matters.TV