This report documents the fact that while most of the worst case scenarios about the effects of global climate change are based on a 1.3%/year increase in GHG emissions, they have actually been rising at 3.3%/year since 2000.
But the likely cause is even more troubling. Forests and oceans have always acted as carbon sinks for the earth, absorbing and processing the natural emissions of everything from termites to dinosaurs. Thanks to the added burden of human emissions, the carbon sinks are now being overwhelmed. The result is less absorption of GHGs and more in the air, trapping heat and creating climate change.
Absent the world’s efforts over the last decade and a half, it could be worse. Absent more significant efforts by the most significant players (you know who you are, USA and China), it will get worse.
World’s carbon dioxide emissions rising at alarming rate
Doyle Rice, October 25, 2007 (USA Today)
Co-author Christopher Field, director, Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology in California; Co-author Josep Canadell, Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO); Co-author Thomas Conway, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Earth System Research Laboratory
The oceans and forests of the world have always been carbon sinks, places that hold the emissions of organic life down. Now, the carbon sinks are becoming neutralized and the emissions are remaining in the atmosphere, trapping heat that makes climate change. (click to enlarge)
Humankind is producing carbon dioxide (CO2), the most well-known of the greenhouse gases (GHGs), faster than ever. The earth is not absorbing it fast enough. The carbon dioxide is measurably accumulating in the atmosphere. The result is climate change.
- The new findings were published in the October 25 edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
- CO2 emissions were 35% higher in 2006 than in 1990.
- In the 1990s, CO2 emissions rose at 1.3%/year. In the 2000s, they have risen at 3.3%/year.
Climate change is a global phenomenon. It is the result of GHG accumulation in the atmosphere. All regions will experience changes.
- Rising sea levels, more frequent heat waves and wildfires, and huge losses of ice in the Arctic and Antarctic have already been observed. These are harbingers of much more significant changes, expected to affect millions.
- This study compared changes in annual fossil fuel emissions from 2000 to 2006.
The study’s authors linked the growth in emissions with 2 factors: (1) economic growth is coming less with energy efficiency; and (2) natural “carbon sinks” in the earth’s forests and oceans have lost the capacity to absorb and process the amount of emissions generated.
There are still things that can be done. Either humankind acts or suffers the consequences. It is time for New Energy. (click to enlarge)
- Field, Carnegie Institute: "Carbon dioxide is rising at a much faster rate than before…In the 1990s, CO2 emissions increased by about 1.3% per year. Since 2000, the growth rate has been 3.3% per year…Our ability to become more carbon-efficient is declining, especially since 2000…We're no longer seeing progress in this area, which is probably a reflection of a large amount of coal coming into the power system."
- Canadell, CSIRO: “[The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts we will have temperature increases of 3.2 to 7.1 degrees by the end of the century…we're well on the way to the higher temperature increase if the emissions keep going up at this rate."
- Conway, NOAA: "Carbon sinks were keeping up with the increased emissions, but now they're not…"