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Global CO2 Emissions Take A “Monster” Jump In 2010

Tyler Hamilton's picture

Tyler Hamilton is a business columnist for the Toronto Star, Canada's largest daily newspaper. In addition to this Clean Break blog, Tyler writes a weekly column of the same name that...

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  • Nov 4, 2011

The good news: developed countries that ratified the Kyoto Protocol, Canada notwithstanding, have collectively reduced CO2 emissions to below 1990 levels.

The bad news: Emissions from the United States, China, India and other developing countries took a giant leap in 2010, bringing total global emissions 6 per cent higher than the previous year, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Energy.

So, sadly, it seems that global emissions are higher than the worst-case projections that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published in its 2007 report. Under its worst-case scenario predictions, global temperatures will rise by between 4 and 11 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations are currently 389 parts per million and rising fast.

Something’s gotta give, folks.

And all of this when we’re supposedly teetering on the brink of recession. Hell, imagine what things would be like if the economy was running on all cylinders. Scary.

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Bill Hannahan's picture
Bill Hannahan on Nov 5, 2011

To be fair, co2 emissions should be assigned to the final consumer, the person who paid for those emissions to be made.

Much of China’s production is exported; a lot goes to the United States, and the associated co2 emissions should be assigned to the u.s.

California brags of low emissions, but it has had high energy prices for decades, driving out energy intensive industry, and it imports a lot of emission intensive products. If this principle were applied, California would not look particularly good.

Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on Nov 6, 2011

At some point in the near future we might want to change the dialog from parts per million to the more graspable parts per thousand.

And we might want to go beyond the concern for blackbody infrared “greenhouse” properties toward CO2 acidic solution properties. This might begin to draw attention from plant biologists, including agriculture and forestry. Measured increases in atmospheric CO2 have a corresponding change in soil and water pH. Marine ecologists have warned of ocean impacts, but warning farmers of profit and yield impacts might get more reaction.

Then we can bring up the rate of this altered geochemistry. This 100 year event is more abrupt than most ecosystems can adapt to, if anybody cares about ecosystems anymore.

Having spent too much time and money protecting ecosystems I would like to figure out how to charge people for clean air and water and wildlife. The government pretends to support the environment. But all I see is money flowing to farming at the river’s edge with chemistry that kills everything, and jobs programs to build more concrete highways to make sure it’s dead for good.

Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on Nov 6, 2011

Ed, I generally agree with your politics. But cynicism without constructive alternatives is just a (moderated).

We both have ample reason to doubt my biofuels, infrared physics stuff. You for lack of any proof, me for lack of outside interest despite my “graspable” blisters.

Oh well, lots of red and infrared in the firebox tonight. The wife and I have a good DVD biography of Winston Churchill tonight. How do they pack so many hours on an optical disc? How did he pack so many changes during his life?

Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on Nov 7, 2011

My reply comment was pretty simple, Ed. You are clearly a very knowlegeable person, and I am clearly a very beat up person. The world is looking for a way out of this slide into oblivion. We would appreciate some good ideas.

As for me, I’ve spent the warm months doing a lot of rough work. Recently pushing brush back I used a chain saw, brush cutter, hand tools, and tractors. It’s a good time of year without snow on the ground or mosquitoes eating me alive, or active poison ivy. I would love to be more civilized in stating my objections to a lot of things. Maybe winter will help me be more circumspect like those young guys in nappy sports coats riding bicycles and sitting on a park bench.

Amelia Timbers's picture
Amelia Timbers on Nov 7, 2011

I thought this was very interesting too, especially in light of how much US goods come from China. They may be the leader, but we are helping to stoke the fire.

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