Satellite instruments reveal the yearly cycle of plant life on the land and in the water. On land, the images represent the density of plant growth, while in the oceans they show the chlorophyll concentration from tiny, plant-like organisms called phytoplankton. From December to February, during the northern hemisphere winter, plant life in the higher latitudes is minimal and receives little sunlight. However, even in the mid latitudes plants are dormant, shown here with browns and yellows on the land and dark blues in the ocean. By contrast the southern ocean and land masses are at the height of the summer season and plant life is revealed with dark green colors on the land and in the ocean. As the year progresses, the situations reverses, with plant life following the increased sunlight northward, while the southern hemisphere experiences decreased plant actvity during its' winter.
Rather than showing a specific year, the animation shows an average yearly cycle by combining data from many satellite instruments and averaging them over multiple years.
The barriers to greater bicycle use are being understood, but it seems unlikely that large scale adoption will occur in the US. Nonetheless it is interesting to consider the potential result of a large scale shift to human and hybrid human-electice powered urban transport.
A paper from the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy at UC Davis (pdf) \
The Potential for Dramatically Increasing Bicycle and E-bike Use in Cities Around the World, with Estimated Energy, CO2, and Cost Impacts
Davis Jacob Mason, Lew Fulton, Zane McDonald
Cycling plays a major role in personal mobility around the world, but it could play a much bigger role. Given the convenience, health bene ts, and affordability of bicycles, they could provide a far greater proportion of urban passenger transportation, helping reduce energy use and CO2 emissions worldwide.1 This report presents a new look at the future of cycling for urban transportation (rather than recreation), and the potential contribution it could make to mobility as well as sustainability. The results show that a world with a dramatic increase in cycling could save society US$24 trillion cumulatively between 2015 and 2050, and cut CO2 emissions from urban passenger transport by nearly 11 percent in 2050 compared to a High Shift scenario without a strong cycling emphasis.
The report builds on the 2014 study A Global High Shift Scenario: Impacts and Potential for More Public Transport, Walking, and Cycling with Lower Car Use. That report provided a global assessment of the potential for increasing travel on sustainable, ef cient modes while concurrently developing cities that are far less car-dependent. However, the role of cycling in the previous study could be considered relatively minor, with the global average urban mode share increasing by three percentage points in 2030 (from 3 to 6 percent of total travel).2 A number of supporters/ users and contributors to the previous report felt that the role of cycling might have been understated in that study. The authors rec- ognized that those comments might be valid because within the wider study there was limited capacity to consider cycling in detail.This report explores just how much is possible if we study cycling in more detail using the same approach. The result is the most com- prehensive picture ever of global urban cycling activity.
Both the 2014 study and the High Shift Cycling Study focus on urban areas, which are projected to have the greatest growth in demand for travel. Given the higher densities of people, services, and jobs that are possible in cities, as opposed to rural areas, cities inherently have the greatest potential to direct the growing demand for travel to sustainable modes and to cycling in particular.
This study uses the same basic method- ology as the previous study, including the development of business-as-usual and high shift scenarios. However, it provides a number of new contributions over the previous study.
A loophole in European emissions testing laws may have allowed VW to legally fit their cars with 'defeat device' software that manipulates emissions in tests. According to the minutes from a 2012 meeting of the EU type approval authorities: “A manufacturer could specify a special setting that is not normally used for everyday driving.”
A leaked letter from VW UK’s boss, Paul Willis, to the House of Commons Transport Committee confirms the VW Group is still arguing they have not cheated in EU emissions tests, saying: “It is still being determined whether the software in question officially constituted a ‘defeat device’ in the EU.”
The Peabody case hinged on whether the company provided shareholders with a comprehensive assessment of risk the company faced because of climate change. In settling with the New York attorney general's office, Peabody agreed to file revised shareholder disclosures with the SEC that accurately represent climate change risks to investors and the public.
The new and more unpredictable testing represents a sea change from the traditional, highly controlled lab setting where vehicles are put on a treadmill, wired with sensors and run through a standardized and familiar routine.
“Manufacturers have asked us what the test conditions would be, and we’ve told them that they don’t have a need to know,” Mr. Grundler said. “It will be random.”
The road testing could dim the future for diesels, which have higher pollution emissions, making electric and hybrid vehicles more attractive in terms of their effect on the environment.
American regulators believe that road testing is relatively crude and cannot match the precision of lab results at detecting nitrogen oxide and other fine particles and pollutants. Rather, the aim of their road tests is to help validate lab findings by catching cars whose road performance reveals higher emissions readings.
There probably isn't a reason why better on the road testing couldn't be done.
Today, German and Dutch coastal planners and engineers are trying out new ideas that can fortify coastlines at lower financial and environmental cost. They’re experimenting with the science of “building with nature,” the practice of domesticating natural forces like wind and water, as well as using natural material such as sand and vegetation, to hold back the sea. But these approaches, too, are costly and could exact their own environmental toll.
Many coastal protection officials around the world have been soliciting advice and expertise from experts in the Netherlands. After Superstorm Sandy devastated the coastline of New York and New Jersey in 2012, for example, U.S. officials hired Ovink to help plan future flood control measures.
Experts note that while the Netherlands, Germany, the United States, and other industrialized nations have the means to confront, if not overcome, rising sea levels and higher storm surges, countries in the developing world — from Cairo to Bangladesh — generally do not. And one of the most important discussions taking place at United Nations climate talks in Paris next month will be exactly how much aid industrialized nations will provide poorer countries in their battle to hold back the sea.
The piece ends with what is probably the most relevant advice - advice that is very difficult to follow for many.
There have been indications of conflicting figures for a few years. New data from China's statistical agency so it is much worse than had been thought - partly explaining air quality problems. Notes in The New York Times.