Chemical engineers can help solve the climate challenge #COP21

Posted on 02/12/2015 by

COP21 logoThis week saw the start of the 21st Conference of Parties,COP21. More than 190 countries and 150 global leaders have gathered in Paris, France, to discuss a new global agreement on climate change.

The United Nations (UN) event will host around 40,000 people and runs right through until the end of next week (11 December).

The future of the natural world, and the animals and plant life that call it home, depends on the outcome of this conference. If we don’t limit global warming to 2 degrees, the consequences will be catastrophic.

Polar bearWhilst we cannot accurately predict the scale of any potential impacts now, what we do know for certain is that climate change is happening, and we have a responsibility to reduce any further damage.

Chemical engineers are part of the solution, and the IChemE Energy Centre has identified five priority areas where technology can be deployed now to help mitigate climate change.

These topics, as outlined in the IChemE Energy Centre Climate Communiqué, are:

  • energy efficiency
  • energy storage and grid management
  • carbon capture, storage and utilisation
  • nuclear
  • sustainable bioenergy

Released in a statement today, the Energy Centre says: “The technologies exist now to deliver massive energy savings and greenhouse gas emission reductions in all five priority areas. Taken together, they represent a pathway to a decarbonized energy system that can be realised now, as long as the agreement made at COP21 recognises that the time has come for deployment of such technologies.”

Read the Energy Centre supporting statement here.

Stefaan Simons, Chair of the Energy Centre Board, has also added: “Chemical engineers already understand the technology needed to limit atmospheric CO2 levels. Now is the time to start using it. World leaders can shift the focus from research and development to demonstration and deployment. We can give policy makers the solutions needed to mitigate climate change.”

You can watch Stef, alongside other members of the Energy Centre Board, Niall Mac Dowell and Ben Salisbury, discuss the five topics in more detail in the following video:

Over the next few days, whilst COP21 is still underway, the Energy Centre will be publishing evidence-based recommendations that cover each of the five topics on this very blog.

Stef will also present at the Paris climate talks on 10 December at an official side event: ‘Technology solutions for a 2oC world: Investing in renewables, storage, energy efficiency and CCS‘. So if you are in Paris, please join him.

There will also be an evening screening of the his side event on 10 December at it IChemE’s offices in Portland Place, London, UK – this event is free-of-charge and open to all.

Let’s all be part of the climate conversation, and make sure that the chemical engineering perspective is heard whilst the future of our planet is being decided over the next two weeks.

Institution of Chemical Engineers

COP21 logoThis week saw the start of the 21st Conference of Parties, COP21. More than 190 countries and 150 global leaders have gathered in Paris, France, to discuss a new global agreement on climate change.

The United Nations (UN) event will host around 40,000 people and runs right through until the end of next week (11 December).

The future of the natural world, and the animals and plant life that call it home, depends on the outcome of this conference. If we don’t limit global warming to 2 degrees, the consequences will be catastrophic.

Polar bearWhilst we cannot accurately predict the scale of any potential impacts now, what we do know for certain is that climate change is happening, and we have a responsibility to reduce any further damage.

Chemical engineers are part of the solution, and the IChemE Energy Centre has identified five priority areas where technology can be deployed now to help…

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Snow Facts

It’s not really the most wonderful time of the year unless there is snow involved. Fact. 

DORKING, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 19: A family of snowmen sit on Box Hill on January 19, 2013 in Dorking, United Kingdom. Heavy snow around the UK caused hundreds of flight cancelations at Heathrow, with more travel disruptions expected during a snowy weekend. Approximately 3,000 schools were closed in England, Wales and Scotland. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

This is your reaction when it snows (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Not only can snow be the greatest part of the British weather experience, but it also guarantees more happiness than a decent summer season.

Ah snow. Word on the street (the street being the Met Office) is that we are due a sprinkling of snow, with many places across the UK being treated to a flurry last night.

And snow lovers couldn’t be happier about this.

1. So PRETTY

Of course autumn is really beautiful, what with the leaves all turning to a cosy shade of orange. However, not even the prettiest autumn scene, trees lining a path through an empty park, could ever trump a field full of freshly fallen, untouched snow.

2. Makes Christmas better

There are only two things that could make Christmas Day even better; meeting Santa Clause, or a white Christmas.

Nothing could match the warm fuzzy feeling of waking up early in the morning on Christmas Day and seeing your street transformed as if it’s been draped in a layer of clean cotton wool.

Bing Crosby felt exactly the same way.

3. Snowmen 

You love nothing more than grabbing a few sticks, buttons, pebbles and the obligatory carrot stick and assembling a small team to make an epic snowman.

Of course you take this very seriously, and every time you pride yourself on having the best snowman on the street.

In fact you have a strict method involving rolling a huge ball of snow down a slope in order to get your snowman as big as possible. You have also been known to shed a tear once he melts away. *Sob*

This is your reaction when it snows (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

4. Snow days = best days

There are waves of excitement that still feel the exact same way when you’re an adult as they did when you were a child.

Stuff like watching Home Alone, birthday cake… and snow days.

A snow day feels just as amazing now, when you can’t get into the office, as it did when school was closed.

Especially when you get to the station only to be greeted with signs telling you that all trains are cancelled.

You take this opportunity to power walk home as quickly as possible, alerting everyone you meet on your way that it’s now an official snow day, whilst being busy with thoughts of how to make the most of it.

Of course throwing a few snowballs around is mandatory.

5.  The memories

It doesn’t matter if your school days weren’t your best days, because the memories of snowy times during school definitely makes up for this.

The only thing to trump the mayhem of times when a dog managed to get into the playground was sitting in Maths and seeing thick heavy flakes falling and engulfing everything.

Most of the time your teachers would give up trying to capture your attention and let you out early which was always welcomed.

6. Perfect for long walks

There is something special about being able to stomp over fresh untouched snow whilst wrapped up head to toe in at least six layers of clothing.

Is there anything better than popping on some wellies and going for a long walk in the crisp cold air whilst feeling the soft snow underneath your feet?

Probably not.

Children play as snow covers part of Central Park following a snow storm in New York, February 4, 2014. Up to nine (23 centimeters) more inches of snow was expected to fall in the New York area beginning late in the evening, with a third snowstorm in a week predicted to hit the city over the weekend. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Better than sweating in the park during a muggy July (Photo: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

This is way better than sweating in the park during a muggy July (Photo: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

7. Everything stops

Of course some people don’t like the snow because it causes disruption, but this can actually be a good thing.

It’s nice to have a bit of disruption which causes things to come to a bit of a stop, proving that it’s not the end of the world if you don’t manage to answer all your emails before 6pm.

8. Snow watching is intense 

The only thing that could ever trump a snow filled walk, is sitting inside near the radiator with a hot drink and watching the snow fall and seeing the world turn into a winter wonderland.

Preferably whilst wearing thick woolly socks.

During this ritual you embark upon an emotional roller-coaster as you are glued to the window desperately wishing for the snow to become thicker, and heavier. Any sign of easing off leads to severe disappointment, which can only be ended by another flurry.

9. It’s very exciting 

Waiting for the snow to arrive is a bit like waiting for a baby.

You know that it will come at some point, and despite having a rough time frame you still exhaust yourself with excitement waiting for it to arrive.

Once it finally arrives there is something magical about waking up and being able to tell from the silence outside, and the light reflecting off the snow into your bedroom that your wait is now over.

10. How to deal with haters

Being a lover of snow means you’ve developed a very thick skin to not only deal with the temperature drop, but also all of the people who don’t like the snow.

You’ve figured that if you can convert one snow hater to a snow fan then you’ve pretty much served your purpose on Earth.

11. SLEDGE TIME

You’ve probably got a customised beauty hidden in your garage, or garden shed that you always bring out as soon as the snow lands.

You also know the best parks within a 10 mile radius to go get revel in all the fun that sledging offers. And you head out with a sense of urgency, in order  to get the best of the snow before pesky teenagers ruin it all.

12. It’s never enough

Chances are that most years you will end up slightly disappointed, as the UK tends to only get a small sprinkling.

But this just means that when we receive a heavy snow storm, you take full advantage of this rare event by spending as much time as possible outside.

You will even risk mild frostbite and soggy gloves in order to squeeze in as much time as possible in the snow. And it’s well worth it.

13 things all snow lovers know to be true

13. And it always goes too soon

The fact that snow melts away is one of the biggest tragedies in your life, and each time the sun comes out you are filled with dread.

Especially when it goes from being fresh white pure snow and disintegrates into a brown muddy slushy mess.

The only way to get through this is by remembering all of the good times you’ve had with it, and pinning your hopes on it returning next year. Courtesy of: The Metro UK.

Female astronauts will spend 8 days in space without men or make-up

The test and flight simulation project, named “Moon-2015”, is designed to simulate an eight-day round trip to the moon, reaching lunar orbit before returning to the Earth. The all female astronaut crew asked how they’d cope in space without men or make-up for 8 days:


The Russian Academy of Science’s Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBP) in Moscow began an all-female simulated lunar circumnavigation project on Wednesday, as the country’s space program looks to take off.

The test and flight simulation project, named “Moon-2015”, is designed to simulate an eight-day round trip to the moon, reaching lunar orbit before returning to the Earth.

An all-female crew will live inside a mock spaceship in a wood-paneled suite at the IBP to gather information on female responses to isolation, cohabitation, crew functionality, and other characteristics of spaceflight. Capture2.PNG

The six volunteers selected from IBP staff, have strong scientific, medical or research backgrounds and have similar medical, physical and physiological characteristics that would be required of a real space crew.

“Our special psychologists have communicated with all the volunteers. Certain methods have been used to test their character compatibility which is quite a concern for the qualification examination committee,” said Alexandr Smoleevskiy, a Russian physiologist involved in the project.

The participants, who have already been undergoing training ahead of the test, said their biggest challenge will be shutting off from the outside world. One crewmember said she felt fortunate as their project lasts only eight days, far less than Russia’s previous “Mars-500” project which concluded in 2011 after 520 days.

“I can’t imagine working in isolation for even 80 days. We have spent a whole day in the capsule to test the devices in a space environment and get familiar with our living conditions and we already felt the impact of being isolated. We wonder how the participants in the “Mars-500″ were able to finish their mission,” said Elena Luchitskaya, a volunteer of the “Moon-2015” project.
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Source: Female astronauts asked how they’d cope in space without men or make-up

Acoustic survey tracks whale population trends along the coast of Southern California

Posted on by Bob Berwyn:blue_whale_001_noaa_body_color Blue whale numbers holding steady; fin w86bdfeee-b9c8-4a62-baa4-a2488c3728f8-originalhales increasing… 

Staff Report: FRISCO — A new acoustic survey in Southern California coastal waters is helping researchers track whale populations.The data analyzed by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego suggests that blue whale numbers are holding steady, while the number of fin whales is increasing.Both species are often seen in the Southern California Bight, the curved region of California coastline with offshore waters extending from San Diego to Point Conception (near Santa Barbara, Calif.), but little is known about their use of the area, where ever-increasing ship traffic has raised concerns about collisions between whales and boats.To learn more, researchers with the Scripps Marine Bioacoustics Lab and Scripps Whale Acoustic Lab  set out specialized recording devices on the seafloor, tracking whale vocalizations  from 2006-2012.The findings were described in the journal Endangered Species Research. The study was supported by the Office of Naval Research, and provides the first detailed view into the spatial use of Southern California waters by blue and fin whales, the two largest cetacean species in the world. Both are classified as endangered species.

Scripps marine acoustician Ana Širović found that blue whale calls were more commonly detected at coastal sites and near the northern Channel Islands, while fin whale calls were detected further off shore, in central and southern areas.

“I think it’s an interesting difference in trends because both of the species were subject to whaling earlier in the twentieth century, and now they’re clearly responding differently,” said Širović.

The acoustic data and overall trends outlined in this study are consistent with visual observations from another Scripps-led study. Širović said the parallel findings between the two studies as evidence that passive acoustics can be used as a powerful tool to monitor population trends for these large marine mammals.

“I think it’s very exciting that we see the same trends in the visual and acoustic data, because it indicates the possibility of using acoustics to monitor long-term trends and changes,” she said, adding that the new study suggests there is a resident fin whale population in the area.

The seasonal recordings of blue whale calls reinforces what’s already known about their migration from the waters off the coast of Mexico and Costa Rica, arriving in Southern California in late spring to forage through the fall.

The leave in early winter, but researchers aren’t certain where they go next. Although researchers have studied blue and fin whales for years, Širović said both species are particularly mysterious, and scientists still don’t know some basic information about them, such as their mating system or breeding grounds.

The Southern California Bight is a highly productive ecological territory for many marine animals due to strong upwelling of cold water, but researchers have not found any evidence that blue or fin whales are breeding there.

The productivity of the coastal region also makes it a hotbed for human activity, with large cities onshore and ships, commercial fishing vessels, and other human impacts ever-present in the water. Since fin whales generally live further offshore, Širović posits that they might have a slight advantage over blue whales, which tend to inhabit areas where there is more ship traffic–increasing their chances for ship strikes.

“It seems that for fin whales, things are probably improving,” she said Širović.

“For blue whales, it’s a little bit harder to tell. There is a question right now as to whether their population has grown to its maximum capacity, because there are many lines of evidence showing that their population is not growing currently,” she said. “So the question remains, is it because that’s just what their population size can be maximally, or are there factors that are keeping them from growing further?”

Širović hopes that future studies can help identify why there is this difference in population trends of blue and fin whales. Now that she and her colleagues have taken a first look at the broad trends of the two species, they want to dig deeper and look into environmental drivers and other factors and features that may be causing some of the spatial distribution patterns and long-term changes of the whales.4074036

Summit County Citizens Voice

Blue whale numbers holding steady; fin whales increasing

Staff Report

FRISCO — A new acoustic survey in Southern California coastal waters is helping researchers track whale populations.

The data analyzed by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego suggests that blue whale numbers are holding steady, while the number of fin whales is increasing.

Both species are often seen in the Southern California Bight, the curved region of California coastline with offshore waters extending from San Diego to Point Conception (near Santa Barbara, Calif.), but little is known about their use of the area, where ever-increasing ship traffic has raised concerns about collisions between whales and boats.

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The Dept of Fisheries launches a “Shark Monitoring Program” to make the Ocean Safer for Humans

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