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Earth Science

World Emissions of Carbon Dioxide Outpace Worst-Case Scenario 760

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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  • Re:Phew... (Score:5, Informative)

    by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @09:08PM (#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:Yeah uh... (Score:4, Informative)

    by wsxyz ( 543068 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @09:12PM (#37980520)
    Yeah every time I get too much carbon dioxide in my lungs, I start to feel like my chest is going to explode.

    Then I exhale.
  • Re:Where's the beef? (Score:4, Informative)

    by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @09:13PM (#37980540) Homepage

    The models indicate there is supposed to be a lag. But so far for previous rises the heat did show up.

  • Re:Where's the beef? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Phleg ( 523632 ) <stephen@t[ ]et.org ['ous' in gap]> on Monday November 07, 2011 @09:19PM (#37980586)

    CO2 outpaces worst-case scenarios yet the heat doesn't show up.

    I can't tell if you're trolling, or if you're actually [guardian.co.uk] that [usatoday.com] fucking [wikipedia.org] ignorant [climatecentral.org].

    Perhaps the computer models were wrong*. [* actually, computer models give you whatever result you want if you tweak them the right way, so they technically, they gave the 'right' results]

    Likewise, climate models are designed to simulate the physics [realclimate.org]of the global ecosystem, and not just perform statistical regressions.

    Perhaps next time you might consider having the slightest fucking clue of what you're talking about before joining a discussion with adults?

  • Re:Where's the beef? (Score:5, Informative)

    by RichMan ( 8097 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @09:20PM (#37980590)

    > CO2 outpaces worst-case scenarios yet the heat doesn't show up.

    Heat lags CO2. Just like the middle of winter is not Dec 21 and the middle of summer is not June 21.
    The earth is warming up a little more each year. Please learn a little before making wrong headed statements.

    Adding heat to the oceans takes a long time. Think boiling water. Adding 1 or 2 degrees to the entire oceans takes an awful lot of energy accumulation. The heat we have added so far has just started to turn over the ocean currents.

  • Re:Where's the beef? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @09:35PM (#37980720) Homepage

    Actually that's not necessarily true. I don't know whether you remember your introductory differential equations class where you did basic modeling, but essentially a model starts with a few observations being converted into hypothesis. Not all facits of a model are explicitly known prior to generating the result data.

  • Re:Where's the beef? (Score:5, Informative)

    by sermo-rationis ( 2502720 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @09:53PM (#37980874)
    From the article, which was written in July 2010:

    Currently 1998 is the hottest year on record. Two combined land and sea surface temperature records from Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and the US National Climatic Data Centre (NCDC) both calculate that the first six months of 2010 were the hottest on record. According to GISS, four of the six months also individually showed record highs.

    At the time the article was written, the first six months of 2010 were hotter than the corresponding months in 1998. Unfortunately that trend continued, and this year NOAA announced that 2010 had tied with 2005 for the hottest year on record. (2005 was hotter than 1998; the guardian got that fact wrong).

    Source: http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2011/20110112_globalstats.html [noaa.gov]

  • Actual data here (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 07, 2011 @09:59PM (#37980928)

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


  • Re:Where's the beef? (Score:5, Informative)

    by cwebster ( 100824 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @10:34PM (#37981158)

    > The models don't indicate that there is supposed to be lag, the models were /programmed/ to /assume/ that there will be lag

    What the models are programmed with are basic PDE's describing what we know about fluid motion, thermodynamics, mass continuity, etc. In this case there will also be code modeling the known interactions of the CO2 molecule with solar and terrestrial radiation. What the programmers are assuming (not programmers really, but the guys running the model) is how much CO2 there is in the atmosphere. The model equations will handle how a number concentration of CO2 ends up being a warming (radiative transfer would be a good class to have had for this), and the rest of your equation set will move that warming around the system.

    You should download some model code (lots of it is open source!) and look at it sometime. Convince yourself its just an iterative march to grind on some PDE's and not a collection of "if CO2, wait 2 years, then T+=4K" type things.

  • by samkass ( 174571 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @10:51PM (#37981292) Homepage Journal

    And the last 10 days actually warmed, so CO2 must not be heating the atmosphere at all! Great argument!

    Your "10 years" number is actually a couple years out of date and no longer true. About 12 years ago there was one extremely hot year, so in 2009 you could use the "10 years" argument and show a flat average line. Of course, even then 12 years or 8 years would both show warming. But now here we are in 2011 and warming has continued, so the trend line for the last 10 years actually shows significant warming.

  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @10:54PM (#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.
  • by javaman235 ( 461502 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @11:02PM (#37981384) Homepage

    http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100728_stateoftheclimate.html [noaa.gov]
    What's your source on say there has been no temperature increase in the last 10 years?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 07, 2011 @11:03PM (#37981398)

    Check the short post and graphics here (http://www.grinzo.com/energy/2011/11/07/more-on-those-record-carbon-emissions/) including one in the comments.

    Bottom line: We're way over our carbon budget and sprinting in the wrong direction. It's the worst possible form of deficit spending, one that our kids, grandkids, etc. will have to deal with for generations to come.

  • by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @11:24PM (#37981548)

    Hansen's 1988 projections used a climate sensitivity [wikipedia.org] of 4.2 C which wasn't an unreasonable value to use at the time. Current estimates put the value from 2 - 4.5 C with the value most likely around 3 C. Using a sensitivity of 3 C in Hansen's 1988 model would put his projections, particularly using Scenario B, more in line with what actually happened. At the bottom of this post [realclimate.org] they discuss Hansen's 1988 model in light of the data up to 2010 and here [realclimate.org] they give a more detailed discussion of Hansen's model specifically.

  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @11:51PM (#37981744) Homepage

    If you are breathing supplemental oxygen for medical purposes you aren't breathing pure oxygen. Lifetime smoker types who need a bit more oxygen than available in garden variety air (aprox 20% O2) are given nasal cannula (prongs) that add 4 - 8% more oxygen for a whopping total of less than 30%. Plenty of room for CO2 to be 'blended in' by room air.

    There are conditions where even relatively low concentrations of added oxygen are problematic, that's what your link talks about it. It isn't true of everyone, basically people with smoking induced lung damage.

    Just pulling out citations from the literature without understanding them doesn't get you far.

  • by iONiUM ( 530420 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @12:36AM (#37982016) Journal

    I suspect you're a troll, but some idiots will end up agreeing with you if they ever read your post, so we'll just refute the idiocy right now.

    "Volcanoes release more than humans" = wrong [skepticalscience.com]. Volcanic activity releases on average 65-319 mln tonnes/year, fossil fuels release 29 bln tonnes/year (EIA 2007).

    "Humans breathe more".. well there's a ton of sites just doing the simple math, but in my lazy search I found this [wordpress.com]. It indicates human emissions via respiratory system is 1-2 bln tonnes/year. 2 / 29 = ~7% of all fossil fuel burned, so that is also not correct.

    Honestly, I don't really feel like continuing anymore than this. I really hope you were a troll, and that you don't procreate.

  • by Jeremy Erwin ( 2054 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @01:11AM (#37982174) Journal

    CO2(ppm) Warming
    340 1K
    430 2K
    540 3K
    670 4K
    840 5K
    1000 6K
    2000 9K

    Note that there are massive error bars associated with the concentrations, and the scenarios are merely likely. It may take hundred of years to equilibrate to the new higher global average.
    Source [nap.edu]

  • by Dasher42 ( 514179 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @01:24AM (#37982238)

    You misunderstand. I feel it's an obligation to hand the world to our children at least as good as we found it, and presently, we're failing abysmally. No really, how can you have a child knowing full well you'd have to explain to them why your generation ran their world off the edge with the foot literally on the gas?

  • Re:Phew... (Score:4, Informative)

    by rve ( 4436 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @01:31AM (#37982270)

    I don't know what tree species that was referring to, but an increase in temperature doesn't necessarily lead to desertification.

    From what I recall, it wasn't just the increase in temperature, but the drought and insect infestations that the higher temperatures bring that was causing certain species, specifically types of pines and poplars. Now, other species are replacing some of the ones that are not doing so well, but there's also a lot of areas that are becoming grassland or desert sooner than expected.

    In what part of the world? In North America pines are dying of a pest accidentally introduced from the old world. Something similar happened or is happening to chestnuts, elms and a number of other tree species and families. This is related to the columbian exchange, not to climate change.

  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @01:32AM (#37982280)

    The practical implication of this piece is that every old person who has been prescribed oxygen by their doctor is also being poisoned.

    Since I'm a doctor I just had to chime in. Physicians are well aware of the toxicity of oxygen. Usually a young person can handle 100% pure oxygen with no problems for up to 24 hours, but after 24 hours the damage from free radicals starts, and it doesn't take much more than 24 hours before even a healthy person dies - ironically from asphyxiation - while breathing 100% oxygen.

    In the elderly it's a different story. Most elderly have a certain amount of lung damage - especially ex-smokers with COPD. While they have learned to live with this damage and their bodies have compensated (CO2 dissolves in blood to form bicarbonate, and not only the lung can dissipate CO2 but also the kidney can get rid of excess bicarbonate, making another CO2 "sink") for their poor lung function. As part of this compensation, the breathing regulatory mechanism is altered. There are two basic stimuli that tell the brain it's time to draw another breath - one receptor measures blood CO2 and another measures blood O2. The CO2 receptor is the most sensitive one and normal people are using this receptor all the time to work out when it's time to take the next breath. However in the elderly or other people with chronic lung problems, these people have gotten accustomed to high CO2 levels. The CO2 receptor no longer works - it's suppressed by the brain to prevent hyperventilation. So these people are dependent on the O2 receptor to tell them when O2 levels are getting low - then it's time to take another breath.

    What happens when you put one of these people on 100% oxygen is that the O2 receptor never fires because there is plenty of oxygen dissolved in the blood all the time, so they never get the signal to take another breath and they simply stop breathing. At this point CO2 levels build up to toxic levels faster than the O2 levels deplete because CO2 was almost at toxic levels anyway, and they go into a coma and die - suddenly and quietly. This is why a doctor always has to be careful when there are inexperienced nurses near elderly patients. A well intentioned nurse who sees an old man struggling for breath is likely to turn up the oxygen flow to "help him out", and in fact she ends up killing him. True story - and it has happened even in my hospital.

  • by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @01:40AM (#37982314)

    Another guy who doesn't understand the difference between weather and climate. Weather is chaotic in nature but it varies within a range. For instance the highest temperature ever recorded on the Earth was 134 F in Death Valley and the lowest was -128.6 F at Vostok Station. Those records may be broken sometime but not likely by much. Climate defines the range that weather is chaotic in. If the climate shifts the range for the weather shifts right along with it.

  • Re:Phew... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @06:02AM (#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.

  • Germany (Score:3, Informative)

    by thejaq ( 2495514 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @11:01AM (#37985026)
    Let's focus on Germany. They have increased GDP and increased renewable energy (20% of German kWh in the first 6 months of 2011 were non-emitting) while shrinking their CO2 emissions for the past 20 years.

Riches cover a multitude of woes. -- Menander