This is a news website article about a scientific paper

Martin Robbins

The Guardian

In the standfirst I will make a fairly obvious pun about the subject matter before posing an inane question I have no intention of really answering: is this an important scientific finding?
This is a news website article about a scientific paper

Science Process Diagram (clique para ampliar)

In this paragraph I will state the main claim that the research makes, making appropriate use of “scare quotes” to ensure that it’s clear that I have no opinion about this research whatsoever.

In this paragraph I will briefly (because no paragraph should be more than one line) state which existing scientific ideas this new research “challenges”.

If the research is about a potential cure, or a solution to a problem, this paragraph will describe how it will raise hopes for a group of sufferers or victims.

This paragraph elaborates on the claim, adding weasel-words like “the scientists say” to shift responsibility for establishing the likely truth or accuracy of the research findings on to absolutely anybody else but me, the journalist.

In this paragraph I will state in which journal the research will be published. I won’t provide a link because either a) the concept of adding links to web pages is alien to the editors, b) I can’t be bothered, or c) the journal inexplicably set the embargo on the press release to expire before the paper was actually published.

“Basically, this is a brief soundbite,” the scientist will say, from a department and university that I will give brief credit to. “The existing science is a bit dodgy, whereas my conclusion seems bang on” she or he will continue.

I will then briefly state how many years the scientist spent leading the study, to reinforce the fact that this is a serious study and worthy of being published by the BBC the website.

This is a sub-heading that gives the impression I am about to add useful context.

Here I will state that whatever was being researched was first discovered in some year, presenting a vague timeline in a token gesture toward establishing context for the reader.

To pad out this section I will include a variety of inane facts about the subject of the research that I gathered by Googling the topic and reading the Wikipedia article that appeared as the first link.

I will preface them with “it is believed” or “scientists think” to avoid giving the impression of passing any sort of personal judgement on even the most inane facts.

This fragment will be put on its own line for no obvious reason.

In this paragraph I will reference or quote some minor celebrity, historical figure, eccentric, or a group of sufferers; because my editors are ideologically committed to the idea that all news stories need a “human interest”, and I’m not convinced that the scientists are interesting enough.

At this point I will include a picture, because our search engine optimisation experts have determined that humans are incapable of reading more than 400 words without one.

This subheading hints at controversy with a curt phrase and a question mark?

This paragraph will explain that while some scientists believe one thing to be true, other people believe another, different thing to be true.

In this paragraph I will provide balance with a quote from another scientist in the field. Since I picked their name at random from a Google search, and since the research probably hasn’t even been published yet for them to see it, their response to my e-mail will be bland and non-committal.

“The research is useful”, they will say, “and gives us new information. However, we need more research before we can say if the conclusions are correct, so I would advise caution for now.”

If the subject is politically sensitive this paragraph will contain quotes from some fringe special interest group of people who, though having no apparent understanding of the subject, help to give the impression that genuine public “controversy” exists.

This paragraph will provide more comments from the author restating their beliefs about the research by basically repeating the same stuff they said in the earlier quotes but with slightly different words. They won’t address any of the criticisms above because I only had time to send out one round of e-mails.

This paragraph contained useful information or context, but was removed by the sub-editor to keep the article within an arbitrary word limit in case the internet runs out of space.

The final paragraph will state that some part of the result is still ambiguous, and that research will continue.

Related Links:

The Journal (not the actual paper, we don’t link to papers) []

The University Home Page (finding the researcher’s page would be too much effort). []

Unrelated story from 2007 matched by keyword analysis. []

Special interest group linked to for balance []


NSJ Project: Seeking students worldwide for the New Science Journalism Project

nsjOn the verge of something absolutely possible … that is exactly the feeling we have here at the offices of the New Science Journalism (NSJ) Project.

The NSJ Project was penciled on to paper in 2008 as a means to address, (a) issues concerning the future of science journalism and science communication, (b) feverishly fast advances in internet technology, and (c) critical changes in the world around us.

The NSJ Project is endeavouring to utilise as much intelligent Internet media technology as possible and combine it with stringent morals of professionalism, and then bring together as many students from around the world as possible to produce a globally respected online science news magazine.

* saiba mais em New Science Journalism

Race for Carbon Accounting Software

carbonneutralRecently, Verisae, a carbon software company based in Minneapolis, acquired a patent for recording and reporting carbon emissions. Carbon Accounting software is growing fast, as the demand for it is increasing at a rapid pace.

Even big companies like SAP and Microsoft are making moves to create their own Carbon Accounting software.

In this highly competitive industry, where big players like Microsoft and SAP are coming up with their own products, Verisae has an obvious advantage, and it wants the rest of the companies to know.

HARA software, backed by Al-Gore, is also a Carbon Accounting software startup. Its web-based software tracks the resources used by the company, like electricity and water, and emissions like carbon and other waste. (contiua)

* leia mais em Trade Carbon Credits

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Pesquisadores desenvolvem método não-destrutivo para quantificar carbono

A engenheira agrônoma Priscila Coltri vem testando a possibilidade de usar índices de vegetação para estimar a biomassa e o potencial para seqüestro e estoque de carbono de plantações de café. Calculados a partir de dados obtidos por sensores remotos, se bem relacionados com parâmetros biológicos, esses índices poderão ser usados para medir carbono sem derrubar a vegetação. “O cálculo de biomassa normalmente é feito através de análises destrutivas, o que é um procedimento caro e complicado em locais produtivos, visto que há necessidade de arrancar a planta inteira”, afirma Coltri. Os produtores costumam não gostar da idéia.

O trabalho é parte do doutorado de Coltri, orientado por Jurandir Zullo Junior e Hilton Silveira Pinto e desenvolvido desde março de 2008 no Centro de Pesquisas Meteorológicas e Climáticas Aplicadas a Agricultura (Cepagri) da Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp). Os dados de campo foram coletados numa fazenda no município de Ribeirão Corrente, nordeste do estado de São Paulo. (contiua)

:: por Flávia Natércia ::

Disponível em ComCiência

Buy Now, Pay Later

Is it too late to buy off our carbon debt?

* disponível em Good Magazine

Carvão versus carbono

Field installation for biochar trial / Cornell University

Field installation for biochar trial / Cornell University

Depois dos biocombustíveis, o biocarvão. Ou “biochar”, de “biological charcoal”, para os colonizados em geral. Mas também pode chamar de terra preta -o milenar produto da ocupação humana da Amazônia, responsável pelos solos mais ricos da região.

Índios, caboclos e arqueólogos sabem o valor das terras pretas. Numa região de solos em geral argilosos e pobres, essas manchas de matéria orgânica dissolvida no terreno garantem uma lavoura farta. Em geral, oferecem também uma rica colheita de artefatos arqueológicos. (continua)

* leia mais em Jornal da Ciência

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New era for fossil fuels as first carbon capturing power plant begins work


French power station leading the way in the world’s sluggish move towards using environmentally vital CCS technology

The world’s first retrofit of a power plant with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology will begin operating this month in the south of France.

At a power plant at Lacq, energy company Total has upgraded an existing gas-fired boiler with CCS technology – a crucial step towards reducing carbon emissions from fossil-fuel power plants worldwide.

With renewable energy sources a long way from covering the world’s increasing demand for energy, many experts believe that developing reliable technology to allow countries to burn fossil fuels without releasing dangerous amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere is essential to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. (continua)

* leia mais em The Guardiam

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Science Adviser Lays Out Climate and Energy Plans

John Holdren, President Obama’s science adviser, began speaking to the media on Wednesday for the first time. The Associated Press emphasized some statements he made in support of testing ways to counteract global warming through what has become known as “ geo-engineering” — emergency interventions to cool the atmosphere should less drastic measures fail. Dr. Holdren said that the Associated Press article implied incorrectly that this strategy for climate management was under serious consideration at the White House. This is not the case, he said in an email distributed to a variety of scientists and other contacts last night:  (continua)

* leia mais em The NY Times


La «terra nera» degli indios ci salverà dall’effetto serra?

Sperimentata anche in Italia all’Istituto di biometeorologia del CNR con promettenti risultati


Sarà la riproposizione, in chiave moderna, di un’antica tecnica agricola precolombiana a salvare il pianeta dall’effetto serra? L’ipotesi è suggestiva ma non peregrina: ci stanno lavorando in diversi centri di ricerca scientifica in tutto il mondo, compreso l’Istituto di biometeorologia del CNR (Ibimet) di Firenze, dove un’equipe di studiosi coordinata dal dottor Franco Miglietta ha ottenuto già risultati molto incoraggianti.

LA SCOPERTA – Tutto parte dalla scoperta, fatta in Brasile anni fa, che esistono dei terreni caratterizzati da un alto contenuto di materiale carbonioso, fino a 70 volte di più dei suoli circostanti: scaglie scure e friabili, del tutto simili alla carbonella che si adopera per accendere i barbecue. «Sembra che questo carbone sia stato prodotto dalla combustione incompleta di parti vegetali introdotte volontariamente nel terreno dalle popolazioni locali, nel corso di migliaia di anni. Insomma, in alternativa al “taglia e brucia”, si praticava il “taglia e carbonifica” a scopo di fertilizzazione», spiega Miglietta. (continua)

* leia mais em Corriere della Sera

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Woodchips with everything. It’s the Atkins plan of the low-carbon world

The latest miracle mass fuel cure, biochar, does not stand up; yet many who should know better have been suckered into it

Whenever you hear the word miracle, you know there’s trouble just around the corner. But no matter many times they lead to disappointment or disaster, the newspapers never tire of promoting miracle cures, miracle crops, miracle fuels and miracle financial instruments. We have a limitless ability to disregard the laws of economics, biology and thermodynamics when we encounter a simple solution to complex problems. So welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the new miracle. It’s a low-carbon regime for the planet that makes the Atkins diet look healthy: woodchips with everything.

Biomass is suddenly the universal answer to our climate and energyproblems. Its advocates claim that it will become the primary source of the world’s heating fuel, electricity, road transport fuel (cellulosic ethanol) and aviation fuel (biokerosene). Few people stop to wonder how the planet can accommodate these demands and still produce food and preserve wild places. Now an even crazier use of woodchips is being promoted everywhere (including in the Guardian). The great green miracle works like this: we turn the planet’s surface into charcoal.

Sorry, not charcoal. We don’t call it that any more. Now we say biochar. The idea is that wood and crop wastes are cooked to release the volatile components (which can be used as fuel), then the residue – the charcoal – is buried in the soil. According to the magical thinkers who promote it, the new miracle stops climate breakdown, replaces gas and petroleum, improves the fertility of the soil, reduces deforestation, cuts labour, creates employment, prevents respiratory disease and ensures that when you drop your toast it always lands butter side up. (I invented the last one, but give them time).

They point out that the indigenous people of the Amazon created terras pretas (black soils) by burying charcoal over hundreds of years. (continua)

* leia mais, por George Monbiot, em The Guardiam

Biochar: Much is unknown but this is no reason to rule it out

Biochar – where wood and crop wastes are cooked to release the volatile components buried in the soil – is a cheap and highly beneficial way of disrupting the global carbon cycle

George Monbiot is right to tell biochar enthusiasts to calm down. Some of us have been guilty of febrile proselytising for this most unlikely scheme for geo-engineering. It is often thus: it is only after a period of reflection and assessment that some of the disadvantages of a new weapon against climate change become apparent.

Nevertheless in his eagerness to get us to tone down our enthusiasm he goes too far. Biochar is a useful and important way to help reduce atmospheric concentrations of CO2. (continua)

* leia mais em The Guardian

Sequestro oceânico de CO2 falha em teste

A natureza acaba de pregar uma peça em cientistas que testavam uma nova técnica contra o aquecimento global. Um experimento em larga escala realizado no Atlântico Sul para testar essa técnica, a fertilização dos oceanos com ferro, mostrou-se um fracasso. Os resultados do teste, divulgados ontem por pesquisadores da Alemanha e da Índia, lançam um balde de água fria na chamada geoengenharia, nome dado às soluções tecnológicas mirabolantes para amenizar a mudança climática.

De todos os esquemas de geoengenharia já propostos (coisas que incluem até mandar guarda-sóis gigantes para o espaço, por exemplo), a fertilização dos oceanos é o que tem o maior potencial. A ideia é relativamente simples: despejar quantidades maciças de ferro na superfície de oceanos em altas latitudes, onde há muitos nutrientes na água, mas pouca clorofila. (continua)

* leia mais em Folha Online

Update em 26/03/2009


Who ate all the algae?1309st21

Using phytoplankton to trap carbon dioxide faces a snag

MESSING around with ecosystems is an unpredictable business. That proved true again this week when a group of Indian and German researchers gave their first report from the biggest ever experiment in geo-engineering: an expedition to pour iron into the Southern Ocean, a vast area that encircles Antarctica, to stimulate a giant bloom of phytoplankton.

Phytoplankton are tiny algae that absorb carbon dioxide when they grow and then lock up some of the greenhouse gas when they die and sink to the seabed. Stimulate the growth of more phytoplankton, the theory goes, and you might send more CO2 to the bottom of the ocean, where it cannot contribute to global warming. But the experiment did not quite turn out like that.

The voyage, a joint venture by India’s National Institute of Oceanography and the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany, was controversial from the start. Some environmental groups claimed it was akin to pollution, and thus illegal. At one point, therefore, the German government ordered the Wegener Institute to suspend operations while it looked into the matter. Eventually, permission to continue was given and the research shipPolarstern made a two-and-half-month passage through stormy seas following the bloom that the researchers had created. (continua)

* leia mais em The Economist

Without commercial carbon capture, it’s ‘game over’, E.ON boss tells government

Chief executive Paul Golby says technology will only be developed with state funding

king460Leading energy industry executives today called on the government to ensure the development of carbon capture and storage becomes commercially viable.

Paul Golby, chief executive of E.ON UK said the commercial development of the technology, which stops the carbon dioxide produced through burning fossil fuels being released into the atmosphere, was vital if the world was to meet the growing demand for energy and still tackle climate change.

“For me it is clear there will be worldwide coal-fuelled growth in energy supply and that CCS is the most important technology in the fight against climate change.CCS is by no means the only low-carbon technology we are investing in, but it’s the most important. Without it, it really is game over.” (continua)

* leia mais em The Guardian

País não mostra ser capaz de gerar riqueza sem sujar o ar

Não é segredo que o país está sujando sua matriz energética, ao diminuir a participação de fontes renováveis (como usinas hidrelétricas) em favor de combustíveis fósseis (termelétricas a gás, óleo e até carvão). Queimar mais combustíveis fósseis significa emitir mais gases do efeito estufa, como o dióxido de carbono (CO2), que contribuem para o aquecimento global.

A realidade é ainda mais grave: o Brasil também vai mal noutro indicador importante, o da intensidade carbônica da economia, ou quantidade de gases do efeito estufa emitida para produzir cada unidade de PIB. Mal, não, pior, pois entre as grandes economias somos a única que não melhorou na capacidade de gerar riqueza sem sujar a atmosfera. (continua)

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Crise econômica expõe fragilidades do mercado de crédito de carbono

Os empresários da indústria, diante da crise econômica mundial, reduzem a produção e compram menos direitos de emissão de dióxido de carbono (CO2), provocando uma queda dos preços que faz temer o desaparecimento do interesse em buscar alternativas para a poluição tradicional.

No mercado europeu, no qual são vendidas permissões de emissão de CO2 –também chamados “direitos para poluir”– o preço da tonelada se reduziu praticamente a um terço de seu valor médio de 2008, quando se situava nos 30 euros. (continua)

* leia mais em Folha Online

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Coen brothers target US coal industry

coenThe Coen brothers have applied their slightly off-kilter sensibility to the campaign against America’s coal industry, with a new television advertisement debunking the notion of clean coal. (continua)

* leia mais em The Guardian

Explainer: How carbon is captured and stored

The three main techniques for preventing carbon dioxide from coal-fired power stations contributing to global warming

drax1_180Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a range of technologies that hold the promise of trapping up to 90% of the carbon dioxide emissions from power stations and industrial sites. It involves collecting, transporting and then burying the CO2 so that it does not escape into the atmosphere and contribute to climate change.

There are three main techniques: the post-combustion process involves scrubbing the power plant’s exhaust gas using chemicals. Pre-combustion CCS takes place before the fuel is placed in the furnace by first converting coal into a clean-burning gas and stripping out the CO2 released by the process. The third method, oxyfuel, burns the coal in an atmosphere with a higher concentration of pure oxygen, resulting in an exhaust gas that is almost pure CO2. (See below for further details).

Once the CO2 has been trapped, it is liquefied, transported – sometimes for several hundred miles – and buried, either in suitable geological formations, deep underground saline aquifers or disused oil fields. The last method is often used in a process called “enhanced oil recovery”, where CO2 is pumped into an oil field to force out the remaining pockets of oil that would otherwise prove difficult to extract. (continua)

* leia mais em The Guardian

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How to survive the coming century

ALLIGATORS basking off the English coast; a vast Brazilian desert; the mythical lost cities of Saigon, New Orleans, Venice and Mumbai; and 90 per cent of humanity vanished. Welcome to the world warmed by 4 °C.

Clearly this is a vision of the future that no one wants, but it might happen. Fearing that the best efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions may fail, or that planetary climate feedback mechanisms will accelerate warming, some scientists and economists are considering not only what this world of the future might be like, but how it could sustain a growing human population. They argue that surviving in the kinds of numbers that exist today, or even more, will be possible, but only if we use our uniquely human ingenuity to cooperate as a species to radically reorganise our world. (continua)

* leia mais em New Scientist