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Earth Science

World Emissions of Carbon Dioxide Outpace Worst-Case Scenario 760

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the drill-baby-drill dept.
Layzej writes "The global output of heat-trapping carbon dioxide jumped by the biggest amount on record in 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy calculated. A chart accompanying the study shows the breakdown by country. The new figures mean that levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago. It is a 'monster' increase that is unheard of, said Gregg Marland, a professor of geology at Appalachian State University, who has helped calculate Department of Energy figures in the past. The question now among scientists is whether the future is the IPCC's worst case scenario or something more extreme."
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World Emissions of Carbon Dioxide Outpace Worst-Case Scenario

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  • Phew... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 07, 2011 @08:02PM (#37980398)

    Thank goodness that "global warming" is bullshit.

    • Re:Phew... (Score:5, Informative)

      by JoeMerchant (803320) on Monday November 07, 2011 @08:08PM (#37980476)

      Note that the US, who in principle did not sign the Kyoto protocol, actually reduced emissions significantly (not just reduction in growth, but actual reduction) since 2007 due to the economic recession.

      So, we don't want to reduce carbon emissions because it will hurt our economy - but hurt the economy and emissions automatically reduce. Sounds like a vicious cycle that needs a technological exit strategy to me.

      • Re:Phew... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Tsingi (870990) <graham.rick@gOPENBSDmail.com minus bsd> on Monday November 07, 2011 @08:20PM (#37980588)

        Note that the US, who in principle did not sign the Kyoto protocol, actually reduced emissions significantly (not just reduction in growth, but actual reduction) since 2007 due to the economic recession.

        So, we don't want to reduce carbon emissions because it will hurt our economy - but hurt the economy and emissions automatically reduce. Sounds like a vicious cycle that needs a technological exit strategy to me.

        But that reduction you have there is production somewhere where there are no emission controls. And likely, no economy either.

      • Re:Phew... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Kagura (843695) on Monday November 07, 2011 @08:33PM (#37980700)

        Note that the US, who in principle did not sign the Kyoto protocol, actually reduced emissions significantly (not just reduction in growth, but actual reduction) since 2007 due to the economic recession.

        So, we don't want to reduce carbon emissions because it will hurt our economy - but hurt the economy and emissions automatically reduce. Sounds like a vicious cycle that needs a technological exit strategy to me.

        I already know what will happen. Policy measures will be introduced to barely limit emissions worldwide. Eventually this will become a looming problem, and a reasonably sized international body will decide that we will use active measures to counteract the climate change problems.

        Nobody wants to cut back on emissions in any meaningful way because it will mean literal death for large numbers of people unable to be supported by non-oil-based agricultural methods, and it will also mean a reduction in the standard of living for everyone else. You know as well as I do that we won't do anything until the last minute, which will be active climate measures.

        • Re:Phew... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by JoeMerchant (803320) on Monday November 07, 2011 @08:39PM (#37980762)

          Note that the US, who in principle did not sign the Kyoto protocol, actually reduced emissions significantly (not just reduction in growth, but actual reduction) since 2007 due to the economic recession.

          So, we don't want to reduce carbon emissions because it will hurt our economy - but hurt the economy and emissions automatically reduce. Sounds like a vicious cycle that needs a technological exit strategy to me.

          I already know what will happen. Policy measures will be introduced to barely limit emissions worldwide. Eventually this will become a looming problem, and a reasonably sized international body will decide that we will use active measures to counteract the climate change problems.

          Nobody wants to cut back on emissions in any meaningful way because it will mean literal death for large numbers of people unable to be supported by non-oil-based agricultural methods, and it will also mean a reduction in the standard of living for everyone else. You know as well as I do that we won't do anything until the last minute, which will be active climate measures.

          If we have really reached peak oil, then the cost of oil may fix the problem all by itself... now, we just need to stop digging all the coal from the ground, methane from the deep shale, and other sequestered carbon that could be replaced by nuclear, solar, wind, hamsters on wheels, and all that other green jazz.

          • Re:Phew... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by bhcompy (1877290) on Monday November 07, 2011 @10:46PM (#37981714)
            Sorry, nuclear is no longer "green". The public won't accept it. Instead, solar sails beaming microwaves to the ground.
          • by Jeremi (14640)

            it could be replaced by nuclear, solar, wind, hamsters on wheels, and all that other green jazz.

            I look forward to the day we can all start complaining about how patents to would-be miracle inventions are being bought up and squirreled away by Big Hamster.

          • Re:Phew... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by wisty (1335733) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @06:34AM (#37983524)

            Right, because simple neo-liberal economics *always* works when once-in-a-century events happen. If the market was really free, OPEC members would be allowed to massively cut production to keep oil in the ground (and would be run by long-term thinkers, not populists trying to please the both US overlords, and the mobs with AKs).

            The danger is, there can be a long lead time on "nuclear, solar, wind, hamsters on wheels, and all that other green jazz". Trying to change the whole world's fuel source in a short time period could be catastrophic. Maybe not for everyone, but if energy prices double then food prices in poor countries will go through the roof.

            People *are* looking into alternatives, but there's no serious funding. Everyone knows that the groundbreaking discoveries will go down in the history books, but not make a mint. Someone will then copy the technology, sidestep IP rights (through work-arounds, or lawyering, or some emergency degree annulling energy patents), find a way to make it 1/2 the price, and roll it out everywhere.

            There's no point doing research, if commercial applications won't be there for decades. The patents will expire, and the technological advantage will fade. Industry needs price signals, which are being suppressed by governments who want to burn up as much of our finite resources as possible before they have to run for re-election.

        • Does "active climate measures" mean dusting off the zany-but-endearing-in-a-slightly-creepy-way techno-utopianism of good old Project Plowshare?

          There must be a way to obtain carbon offset credits by using nuclear explosives to propel dust into the upper atmosphere and cause global cooling...
        • Re:Phew... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by catchblue22 (1004569) on Monday November 07, 2011 @11:43PM (#37982048) Homepage

          Nobody wants to cut back on emissions in any meaningful way because it will mean literal death for large numbers of people unable to be supported by non-oil-based agricultural methods

          Your argument displays at least two logical fallacies. Firstly you imply that reductions in carbon emissions must necessarily involve an abandonment of fossil fuel use in agriculture. Emissions can be substantially reduced by living closer to where we work, by using more efficient transportation, and by designing our buildings more efficiently. This is an example of an all or nothing fallacy. Secondly, you implicitly misrepresent the views of more reasonable environmentalists, which is the strawman fallacy.

          • Re:Phew... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Electricity Likes Me (1098643) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @12:30AM (#37982266)

            He also misrepresents the entire process of modern agriculture - namely, none of the inputs are implicitly dependent on the active production of more CO2. All of them could be done more efficiently, or utilizing alternative power sources. Of course, he's also not covering the rather considerable issue that high-energy-driven intensive farming is doing a lot of long term damage to arable lands all over the world, and actively reducing their productive capacity. Changes to more sustainable farming methods would reduce the dependence of fertilizers and follow effects on marine ecosystems from run-off.

            But there's no sense letting any of that get in the way of trying to co-opt global hunger as a perverse argument *against* doing anything about climate change.

            • Re:Phew... (Score:4, Insightful)

              by arose (644256) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @02:59AM (#37982802)

              Of course, he's also not covering the rather considerable issue that high-energy-driven intensive farming is doing a lot of long term damage to arable lands all over the world, and actively reducing their productive capacity.

              No worries, a good chunk of that land won't be arable once the climate shift really gets going!

          • We could also substantially reduce our emissions by buying fewer goods from overseas. One cargo ship emits the equivalent pollution of 50 million cars (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/apr/09/shipping-pollution [guardian.co.uk]). Here's another way of putting it from the article:

            Just 15 of the world's biggest ships may now emit as much pollution as all the world's 760m cars.

            Making more of an effort to produce items more locally is sort of the same as "living closer to where we work", but it has benefits far beyond a shorter commute. Additionally, where most of us live we probably have stricter environment

        • Re:Phew... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Candyban (723804) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @05:06AM (#37983220)

          Nobody wants to cut back on emissions in any meaningful way because it will mean literal death for large numbers of people unable to be supported by non-oil-based agricultural methods, and it will also mean a reduction in the standard of living for everyone else.

          That is bullshit. Insulating your house increases your living standard and reduces costs (less heating/cooling required). How does that "kill" the economy? It should even allow for cheaper oil (less demand). If you can save money and get better comfort, how is this bad?

          Look at BMW and Mercedes. You think they compromised on power or comfort with their new line of fuel efficient cars? When you don't lose as much time at the gas station and reduce toxins how is this bad?

          Household appliances use less power. This means I can now use both the washer and dryer simultaneously on the same circuit without losing the circuit breaker. When you can do more with less. How is this bad?

          CPUs and other electronics use less power for the same amount of processing capacity in each generation. Higher efficiency means longer battery life, smaller/lighter components as less cooling is required, ...
          You think we would have smartphones and iPads if components were as energy efficient as they were in the 60s? 70s? 80s? 90s? 2000s (P4 anyone?)? When you can have things which could not exist before, how is this bad?

          I am not saying this is true for all branches of the economy, but get your head out of the sand.
          Recycling (= renewable resources) is an increasing branch in our economy and we could no longer live without as we simply do not have access to cheap resources and the same will be true for energy.
          A lot of our devices and habits are VERY inefficient. Every house wastes energy for generating heat (heating, cooking) and cooling (airco, fridge) at the same time. Increasing the efficiency means cutting back on costs and emissions while standards of living increases for everyone. Did you hear about passive houses? They use residual heat from appliances to heat the house.
          How great would it be if each building was self sufficient and would have "the grid" only as a fall-back option? How cool would it be if you could drive to the store on the cooking grease of the previous meal? How much better would it be if you did not need to drive to work at all (work from home)?

          We are now using resources which took millions of years to form. You think we can keep this pace for another 500 years? 300 years? 100 years (this may be in the lifetime of my daughter which is 3 years old now)? 50 years (this may still be in my lifetime)? Who are we to use up all the resources for our enjoyment now and leave nothing for future generations? Our current habits are UNSUSTAINABLE and HAVE to change.
          Either we make changes ourselves or something cataclysmic will happen before 2150. We are at a crossroad between the responsible and the irresponsible way. Changing habits (responsible) takes effort but could preserve prosperity. The irresponsible road leads to destruction.
          You remember the days when we had acid rain?
          You remember the days when the hole in the ozone layer was growing?
          You remember the days when nuclear waste was dumped in the oceans?

          Economies and standards of living today dependent too much on cheap energy and cheap credit. Both will crumble eventually. Better prepare yourself or get wiped out and as we saw with the credit crunch (credit went away briefly), it can happen VERY fast and incur irreparable damage.
          Energy efficiency (aka reduction in emissions) is essential to our way of life (short term < 70 years) and even survival (long term > 300 years).

        • > large numbers of people unable to be supported by non-oil-based agricultural methods

          Looking over the numbers, this does not appear to be an issue.

          The practical way to fix problems is to start with the biggest ones. The biggest ones in this case, as clearly shown on the graph, are "liquid" and "solid", namely fuels for transport and coal for electricity. Both of these are solvable, now. Unfortunately the solution to the first, PEH's and hybrid semis, *may* require more base load depending on where you l

        • Re:Phew... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by olau (314197) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @08:57AM (#37984280) Homepage

          Nobody wants to cut back on emissions in any meaningful way ...

          In Denmark, we do. I think it's the same for several other European countries. Denmark supported wind power way back and as a result have the world's largest wind turbine company [wikipedia.org] despite a population of only 5.5 mio. As I gather, their percent-wise market share has been dwindling over the last years, perhaps because the former government (2001-2011) killed most of publicly-supported home-market initiative out of what was probably ideological (libertarian) reasons.

          EU has a goal of 30% of the energy usage from renewable sources in 2020 I think.

      • by riverat1 (1048260)

        At the rate the cost of solar photovoltaic cells are dropping it will soon be cheapest way to produce electricity. Then all we need is a way to store enough energy to get us through the intermittent nature of solar power.
         

        • Grid-scale storage will be very helpful, yes, but super-conducting very-long-distance transmission could also be used (if it can be developed), to shunt power from sunny to cloudy or dark regions of a (super) continent or from windy to calm regions.

      • Extreme weather created by greenhouse gasses should at some point hurt our economy too, reducing our output even more, so you could say "Earth will fight back." Considering the drought we're experiencing now [unl.edu], perhaps it's already started.
      • Re:Phew... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @05:02AM (#37983204)

        Note that the US, who in principle did not sign the Kyoto protocol, actually reduced emissions significantly (not just reduction in growth, but actual reduction) since 2007 due to the economic recession.

        So, we don't want to reduce carbon emissions because it will hurt our economy - but hurt the economy and emissions automatically reduce. Sounds like a vicious cycle that needs a technological exit strategy to me.

        Either you are wrong or the article's graph [planet3.org] sourced from the US department of energy is. It shows no significant reduction, only a slight dip before a continued upward trend.

  • THATS IT! (Score:3, Funny)

    by tibbar (30026) on Monday November 07, 2011 @08:24PM (#37980622)

    I'm leaving ...

  • Actual data here (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 07, 2011 @08:59PM (#37980928)

    Here's actual data for CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/global.html

  • by Dasher42 (514179) on Monday November 07, 2011 @09:11PM (#37981022)

    Is that scientists, on average, are not crazed alarmists. They work in a field full of cut-throat peer review where the one who truly, verifiably disproves the most long-standing stuff gets the recognition and the spoils. Their language is conservative, a wide range of speculation must be admitted for consideration but they're going to err on the side of caution.

    There's nothing in nature short of a major mass extinction event to match what we're creating. I can't fathom why anyone's having kids. The kids we have already are truly screwed.

    • by Pyzaros (674474) on Monday November 07, 2011 @09:46PM (#37981256)

      Is that scientists, on average, are not crazed alarmists. They work in a field full of cut-throat peer review where the one who truly, verifiably disproves the most long-standing stuff gets the recognition and the spoils. Their language is conservative, a wide range of speculation must be admitted for consideration but they're going to err on the side of caution.

      There's nothing in nature short of a major mass extinction event to match what we're creating. I can't fathom why anyone's having kids. The kids we have already are truly screwed.

      I'm guessing you're no scientist.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 07, 2011 @09:46PM (#37981260)

      I work in science, and this is something of a misconception. Cut-throat peer review is anything but exempt from personal politics, as are those who dole out grants, etc. The livelihood of scientists is entirely dependent upon outside money that is often there in hopes that the scientists in question provide a specific answer. And yes, I am certain that global warming falls entirely within this domain. I have yet to meet a well funded scientist that is looking at the data the other way. If at this point you're thinking that it's bad science to be only looking at a problem from one side, you are correct. It's just that sometimes looking from that other side is a poor career choice.

    • by shadowofwind (1209890) on Monday November 07, 2011 @10:21PM (#37981536)

      I can't fathom why anyone's having kids.

      Because we value life and intelligence, and if some of us don't have kids, there will be no more human life?

      The thought that intelligent, responsible people should know better than to reproduce implies that only unintelligent, irresponsible people should create the next generation. That's not exactly a recipe for success.

      There have always crisis in history, wars, famines, plagues, collapses of empires, but people continue on.

      A population collapse would add to the problems. The fact that some parts of the world are having more than enough kids doesn't offset the problem in more developed parts of the world. The US, as an example, would have a declining population without immigration. A wealthy, educated population can incorporate poor, uneducated immigrants, but can't well replace itself that way entirely.

      Yes, its kind of crazy that it took hundreds of millions of years for oil to accumulate in the earth, and people are set on burning it in a couple of hundred. A foolishness that people will suffer for, and unfortunately the people who suffer the most won't be the ones who contributed the most to the problem. But how rational is the thought that we should all just throw up our hands and commit suicide?

      Yes humanity is screwed up, and there's no excuse for it, to the extent that we're intelligent to know better. But if you think that humanity invented selfishness and misery, perhaps you should get out and study nature more.

  • by Snaller (147050) on Monday November 07, 2011 @09:52PM (#37981308) Journal

    They are chtorrforming our planet to make it more suitable for their form of life!

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Monday November 07, 2011 @09:54PM (#37981326) Journal
    The problem is that EU wants to do the RIGHT thing, America does not want to get burned, and China wants to trash the west at any and all costs.

    If America was smart, we would drop the cap-n-trade and put a tax on ALL GOODS based on where the final assembly and the primary sub component come from. In addition, it would be done as a percentage based on CO2 emissions per sq km. That way, it can be easily checked from the sky via sat. In addition, by doing it this way, it discourages nations from allowing high growth rates, as well as does not punish the vast majority of 3rd world nations.

    Best of all, it tells EVERY NATION that they must partake. If they emit a load of CO2 per sq km, then they will have a tax put on their goods. If the lower it, and then later when succesful (see China), then they will have a larger tax put on them. This has a nice feedback to prevent successful nations from skipping the CO2 controls.

    In addition, this same approach should be used for pollution controls. One nation in particular emits more than 1/2 of all mercury that man has ever emitted. That has to be stopped.
    • The influence of the US is bound to the strength of its economy, the strength of its economy is bound (currently) to its use of fossil fuels. So if the US acts preemptively, it loses its power to influence others to do the same, it drives up costs for itself while driving down fossil fuel costs for others, so their economy and thus influence increases. Yet, if (in the terms of A Beautiful Mind) "If everybody goes for the blond, nobody gets laid", which is to say if consumption can't be curbed, everybody is

      • Actually, no. America makes less use of fossil fuel than many other nations. In particular, when it comes to emissions on a per sq km, it is actually in the lower half. In addition, it is one of the few nations in which it is dropping. OTH, China has moved to being in the top 10% for emissions on a per sq km basis, as well as the largest emitter!

        Now, as to forcing all nations to participate, again, you are wrong. In particular, China, Russia, Brazil, India, etc. depend heavily on exports esp. to the wes
    • by Solandri (704621)

      The problem is that EU wants to do the RIGHT thing, America does not want to get burned, and China wants to trash the west at any and all costs.

      Assuming the chart in TFA [planet3.org] is accurate (admittedly from the US DOE), doesn't this refute the EU stance on the Kyoto Protocol, and validate the U.S. stance that any meaningful reduction treaty had to include developing nations? Looking at those lines, it seems even if Kyoto had been ratified by everyone and everyone had hit their 1990-level reduction targets, it wo

  • We are so fucked (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wisebabo (638845) on Monday November 07, 2011 @10:42PM (#37981690) Journal

    I can say that on Slashdot can't I? I mean I may (will?) be modded down because of my content but swearing isn't automatically penalized right?

    Anyway, years ago my brother gave me Michael Chrichton's anti-global warming book to show me what HE (and my brother) thought about global warming. I didn't get into a big argument because I (unfortunately) knew that the effects would be visible in our lifetime. And if I was wrong, I'd be more than happy to buy a new SUX 6000 with 9mpg (except that would mean I'm buying oil from countries that finance terrorism and hate our guts; but that's another story).

    So now it appears as if we really are headed to disaster; if global warming was a myth then how come the projections keep getting WORSE not better? If it was all a short term blip or fabrication we should be seeing things going back to normal shouldn't we?

    Of course not, because man-made global warming is real. So i expect the Republicans amongst us will change:

    Global Warming isn't real - TO - Man Made Global Warming isn't real. -THEN - There isn't anything we can do about it anyway

    which will go along with:

    Evolution is just a theory (against 95% of biologists) - AND - The constitution really doesnt state the separation of Church and Govt. (against 99% of historians) - TO - Stimulus spending doesn't boost the GDP (against 85% of economists.)*

    When did the Republican party become the party of ignorance? Why do people like Rupert Murdoch keep at it even when someone like Steve Jobs (I know, I know) warns him to be mindful of his legacy? I mean when future generations look back upon what this group of people did to our country and planet, you've got to wonder what they're going to write in the history books. Do they not care?

    So yes, we are so fucked

    *By the way, do Republicans believe that vaccines cause autism?

  • by NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @01:29AM (#37982516)
    If the earth starts to warm, for any reason, to the point that it threatens the civilized world, countries will rise up and nuke each other out of frustration, which will cause a nuclear winter. Did I mention that billions will die, too? Problem solved. I'm not kidding.
    • by Arlet (29997)

      I guess, with that attitude, there wouldn't be anything that would qualify as a threat.

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