The peak is nigh…or is it ?

Since 2007, the government of The Netherlands -a small but densely populated and strongly industrialised country in north-western Europe- by virtue of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (NEAA) or Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving (PBL) in Dutch, has been annually releasing data on global trends in CO2 emissions. In the beginning, the NEAA/PBL issued no actual report, but merely provided processed data on their website, accompanied by explanations and interpretations in Dutch. However, from 2008 onwards, the NEAA/PBL also offered supporting texts in English, while since 2010 it is possible to download full reports (in English) in PDF format. The newest report was just released, and reports on the data from the year 2016. Strikingly, it appears that global CO2 emissions have stabilised in the period 2015-2016. This may indicate that the so-called Peak Emissions (the point after which emissions start to drop) may be in sight.

Peak Emissions are a sign that the de-carbonisation of our society is actually happening. It means that the measures being taken by politicians, consumers and industry are actually taking effect. It does not mean that we are not emitting CO2 anymore, because we are. Some 35 billion tons all in all, over 2016 alone. The leading independent British daily newspaper The Guardian also picked up on the Dutch report and published a very accessible article on it. Peak Emissions are of course always determined in hindsight, but it certainly marks the possible beginning of a hopeful trend.

Enhanced weathering in the spotlights

It has been quite a while since I updated the blog. So, let’s pick up where we left last year… With media attention for geo-engineering, and enhanced weathering in particular.

In a recent editorial, the scientific journal Nature Geoscience turned the spotlight directly to enhanced weathering and its potential to contribute to negative emissions, the net removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. Click here for the direct link. In the last post, I found out that the popular science website IFLScience picked up on an interview in the New Scientist, when I was visiting a conference on Ocean Acidification in Tasmania. Again, I cannot say it often enough how nice and important it is to be covered by more popular science media. In this way, a far larger -and in essence, more important- audience is made aware of what is achieved in the realm of Academia.

As such, I wanted to put down a list of media that have covered our story in the past years. Just to show that the use of enhanced weathering of olivine against ocean acidification, both from a scientific and climate change mitigation standpoints, is considered an interesting option. Also, I wanted to provide useful links, with extra narratives, that makes those articles so much easier digestible than your average scientific article.

Being a scientist I have to stress here -and stress it I will- that I do not endorse or dismiss any climate engineering action per sé. What I DO promote, wholeheartedly, is research into these approaches. How else are governing bodies going to decide whether to pursue a certain path of climate change mitigation approaches, if they do not have the scientifically checked facts on the table ? I know that the last sentence might even sound a bit odd in the “post-truth” era we appear to be living in, but I stand by my point.

Anyhow, without further ado…our media coverage during the past years:

2016: New Scientist publishes an interview, which gets picked up by IFLScience

2015: One of the bigger Dutch national newspapers, de Volkskrant, publishes an article on olivine

2014: During a very interesting, multi-disciplinary conference on climate engineering in Berlin, several media approach us and cover the story of how olivine works against sour seas and sucks up CO2. The scientific journal Nature published an editorial in the News section, and the well-known US-based newspaper The New York Times published a long article.

Also, I was once asked for some comments on an article in Geology about how ant colonies enhance underground olivine rocks and so increase CO2 uptake. These were done in a German newspaper (Sueddeutsche Zeitung) and a Swiss one (Neue Zuercher Zeitung).



I *beep* love science !

The currency of science is (sadly, sometimes…) publications. “Publish or perish” is the oft-used adagium, to illustrate how much of a Red Queen we have to be as a scientist. Think of researchers needing to publish for scientific survival, as a person running on a conveyor belt at full speed… If that person (the scientist) stops running (publishing), (s)he will fall and be whisked off the stage. Harsh ? Hmm, yes… Unfair ? No, not really. Because, science needs to stay as up-to-date as possible to provide well-founded facts and answers to questions big and small. Of course, publications in high-impact journals constitute the biggest trophy one can proverbially shoot. But, how many people read such publications actually ? Not that many, is the fair answer. That is why I find it so incredibly cool that the popular (but accurate) scientific website IFLScience has picked up on the interview in New Scientist and published an article about our work. With the sole purpose of explaining and distributing real science to real people, IFLScience uses no-nonsense language, straight to the point, without dumbing it down.