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Plants Contribute to Global Warming?

first_imgIf anyone needs a reminder that scientists still have a lot to learn, consider this major discovery of something right under their noses that caught them completely off guard.  Up to a third of methane in the atmosphere comes from plants.  This is not only a baffling puzzle about how or why plants would create such a reducing molecule in an oxic environment, but the finding will have a major impact on how scientists calculate the greenhouse-gas budget – a data point that feeds right into political negotiations over what to do about global warming.  It will also ripple back through models of earth history and climate.  (After carbon dioxide, methane is the major greenhouse gas in the atmosphere; previously, scientists thought most of it was coming from microbial activity in wetlands or cow farts – in scientific terms, the “eructations of ruminant animals.”)    The astonishment of two news reports in Nature was palpable.  Atmospheric expert David C. Lowe1 called this startling, because it is the first case of non-bacterial agents producing methane, and the amount is large: up to 30% of the annual total of methane entering earth’s atmosphere.  Methane has been a target for emission control under the Kyoto protocols, but is it possible that by planting forests in some wetland countries will make the problem worse?  They had recommended drier rice farming than flooding rice paddies with water.  Lowe asks, “could the rice plants themselves be as significant a source of methane as the flooded paddy fields?”    Quirin Schiermeier in Munich was similarly stunned.2  This finding will send scientists and politicians back to the drawing board, he said: “The newly revealed methane emissions have taken plant physiologists by surprise, because far more energy is required to create methane than, say, carbon dioxide in an oxygenated environment.”  A sidebar asked, “How could we have missed this?” and has them “wondering what else might have been overlooked if it is true.”  It could be very important, and may not be the last surprise.  It does not change the fact that atmospheric methane has doubled over the past 200 years, and does not remove the need to understand the human impact on atmospheric change, but “It means we neglected a big driving force for the climate,” remarked Martin Heimann, director of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany, who was most surprised by the large amount of methane detected.    The discovery was made by Keppler et al. and announced in Nature.3  They said, “We suggest that this newly identified source may have important implications for the global methane budget and may call for a reconsideration of the role of natural methane sources in past climate change.”  See also the summary on EurekAlert.Update 01/19/2006: The authors issued a clarification in a Max Planck Society press release that their findings were not intended to suggest that plants cause global warming, or that reforestation efforts would be harmful.  “Emissions from plants thus contribute to the natural greenhouse effect and not to the recent temperature increase known as ‘global warming,’ they said.  “Even if land use practices have altered plant methane emissions, which we did not demonstrate, this would also count as an anthropogenic source, and the plants themselves cannot be deemed responsible.”  The authors were apparently chagrined over widespread “misinterpretation” of their findings in the news media; “The blame is not with the plants,” the press release was titled.Update: see 08/28/2006 headline.1David C. Lowe, “Global change: A green source of surprise,” Nature 439, 148-149 (12 January 2006) | doi:10.1038/439148a.2Quirin Schiermeier, “Methane finding baffles scientists,” Nature http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v439/n7073/full/439128a.html.3Keppler et al., “Methane emissions from terrestrial plants under aerobic conditions,” Nature 439, 187-191 (12 January 2006) | doi:10.1038/nature04420.CEH does not generally take positions on political issues like global warming, but two lessons stand out from this surprising discovery:(1) Plants must have some yet-to-be-discovered remarkable mechanism for producing an unlikely molecule in oxidizing conditions.  Here’s a chance for an ID-friendly researcher to find out how and why plants accomplish this feat.  Think of the possibilities for ID science: can plants teach us an efficient way to produce natural gas?  Could this bring our energy bills down?(2) There may be a lot more going on in this old world than the experts, who influence the politicians, could ever realize.  When they speak glibly about what the climate was doing umpteen gazillion years ago, take note of this startling finding that was right under their noses, right here in the present.(Visited 12 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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YouTube’s iOS Livestreaming Feature Is A Win For Cord Cutters

first_img9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… Related Posts john paul titlow Watching Coachella from your phone just got easier. At long last, iOS users can tap into YouTube’s live video streams, thanks to an update pushed out to the app yesterday. It may seem like a minor thing, but the addition of livestreaming support to YouTube for iOS is a pretty nice touch, especially if you’re getting your “TV” content from your tablet or smartphone. This is a win for cord cutters. As somebody who relies exclusively on Internet streaming boxes and mobile devices to fill their 48″ HDTV screen with moving pictures, I’ve long wished YouTube’s native app would give me access to the live-streamed stuff. In recent years, YouTube has been making live video feeds available for whatever major political and entertainment events they can get the rights to stream. This includes music festivals like Coachella, sporting events and just about every major televised event in the course of each presidential election. You know, exactly the kind of thing for which we tune into live TV.Internet TV User Experience: It’s Getting There…The problem with relying on the Internet for TV content is that the user experience is unpolished. As exciting as all this new TV tech might seem, there’s still something to be said for sitting in front of a television set, pressing a button and leaning back. You can’t really do that with Internet TV, but the experience is getting there. Part of the equation is smart app design such as that found in iPad video apps like Frequency, ShowYou and Vodio.  YouTube’s own four-month-old iPad app is the best the service has ever looked on Apple’s market-leading tablet (it’s naturally quite at home on Android as well).  Still, while a great mobile app UI is important, it’s useless without the means to get it to the TV, which is where technologies like Apple’s AirPlay come in. And of course, the most crucial part of all is the content itself. This update stands to make YouTube a much better source of that content. Meanwhile, if Aereo survives the TV industry’s litigious onslaught, it will be, if you’ll pardon the buzzword, a total game-changer for this type of TV-viewing experience. YouTube’s Role In TV’s FutureOn the content front, YouTube has been ramping up its original, TV-style content for awhile now, even opening its own TV studio in Los Angeles. Like Hulu and Netflix, YouTube knows that people are going to be turning to the Internet for more and more  of their TV-viewing, and they want to stake out as big of a slice of that pie as possible. But while binging on Arrested Development on Netflix is great and all, certain shows and events are best enjoyed live. Trying to tune into those things via tablets and streaming boxes is a pretty clunky experience. As the interfaces mature and content selection widens, it’s going to get better. YouTube is one of players that will be right at the heart of this evolution, which will lead to the future of what we now think of as “TV.” Adding live streaming support inches us toward that future just enough that it’s worth noting. This is not a blockbuster, life-altering feature for cord cutters – It’s not like HBO just gave us all HBO Go access for free out of the kindness of their hearts – but it’s an important step toward making mobile devices more suitable sources of television-style content. Combined with apps like Aereo and Hulu Plus, YouTube makes “TV” something that increasingly comes from the Internet, not from cable providers.  5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnoutcenter_img 12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People… 4 Keys to a Kid-Safe App Tags:#airplay#Internet TV#mobile#YouTube last_img read more

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