Entries in Climate (2)


Dinosaur Gas Enough to Warm Earth’s Climate?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Scientists from the U.K. say dinosaurs probably had gas, just as animals and humans do today, and they may have had enough of it that it actually warmed the Jurassic climate, more than 100 million years ago.

David Wilkinson of Liverpool John Moores University led a team, writing in the journal Current Biology, that tried to estimate how much gas could have come from sauropods — the giant long-necked vegetarian dinosaurs such as Apatosaurus (previously known as Brontosaurus) — who roamed many swamps, chomping on greens to get enough calories.

It would have been a high-fiber diet.

Wilkinson and his colleagues estimate that the dinosaurs gave off something like 570 million tons of methane every year.  They emphasize that they’re heaping one estimate on top of another — there’s no saying, for instance, what microbes may have thrived in a typical dinosaur’s gut, or just how many ferns one could have eaten in a day.

But if they’re right, the dinosaurs gave off about as much methane as gets into the atmosphere today from bogs, natural gas pumping and livestock on modern-day farms.

Methane happens to be a heat-trapping gas, like carbon dioxide — and it’s considerably more potent, molecule per molecule.  Hence the suggestion that the dinosaurs may have helped warm their world.

There are many other factors, Wilkinson and his team point out, that would have contributed to the already-warm climate when the dinosaurs lived.  And scientists say carbon dioxide today is much more plentiful in the atmosphere than methane.

But still, if you figure that the average Apatosaurus could have weighed something like 20,000 pounds, and spent most of the day eating to keep up its body weight — well, no wonder Wilkinson’s paper has been a hot topic.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Climate Conference Ends With Late Agreement

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(DURBAN, South Africa) -- In the end, negotiators at the global climate conference in South Africa made a deal, kept the conversation among 195 nations intact, advanced the contracts of cooperation, and prevented the feared collapse of these global climate treaties that have been evolving for more than 20 years in the planet-wide struggle to stave off the worst catastrophic impacts of man-made global warming.

While the world was distracted by peaceful “Occupy” demonstrations spreading across Russia, more deadly government violence bearing down in Syria, and, in the United States, another debate among Republicans vying to run against U.S. President Barack Obama in 2012’s election, the delegates in a huge convention center in South Africa worked straight through the third night in a row.

It is hard work to get 195 nations to agree on anything, much less complex emissions reductions schedules and credit and loan guarantees linked to damage projections and scientifically calibrated precipitation scenarios.

Work that is, in the parlance of diplomacy, “highly technical.”

And out of their endless work and attention to thousands of details, negotiators arrived at Sunday morning’s headlines: The Kyoto Protocol binding many nations—but not the U.S., China or India—to strict carbon emission cuts was not only saved, but there was now an agreement among all nations—including the U.S., China and India—that by 2015, all countries would affirm binding legal agreements on carbon emissions that would go into effect by 2020.

There would also be a “Green Climate Fund” of $100 billion a year by which rich nations, who put the lion’s share of the invisible heat-trapping gases in the air, would assist poor nations, who put little in the air, adapt as best they can to the painful disruptions and displacements from global warming that are increasingly frequent.

Many science groups, humanitarian aid organizations and smaller nations emphasized, however, that the agreements still left an enormous gap between what was being promised and what is needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change—possibly arriving even by mid-century.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio