World global warming gas emissions soar

According to the Associated Press, the U.S. Department of Energy calculated the global output of heat-trapping carbon dioxide soared by six percent in 2010, the biggest single year increase on record and a sign of how feeble the world’s efforts are at slowing man-made global warming.

The new figures for 2010 mean that levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst case scenario outlined

The world pumped about 564 million more tons of carbon into the air in 2010 than it did in 2009, and extra pollution in China and the U.S. account for more than half the increase in emissions last year.

Burning coal is the biggest carbon source worldwide and emissions from that jumped nearly 8 percent in 2010 with India and China’s increased use of coal contributing to those emission increases.  And while broader economic improvements in poor countries has been bringing living improvements to the people of those countries, doing it with increasing reliance on coal is imperiling the world.

In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report on global warming, using different scenarios for carbon dioxide pollution.  At that time the IPCC said the rate of warming would be based on the rate of pollution.  The latest figures put global emissions higher than the worst case projections from the climate panel. Those forecast global temperatures rising between 4 and 11 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century with the best estimate at 7.5 degrees.

Even though global warming skeptics have attacked the climate change panel as being too alarmist, most climate scientists have generally found their predictions too conservative. The IPCC’s worst case scenario was only about in the middle of what MIT calculated are likely scenarios.

One bright spot is the developed countries that ratified the 1997 Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gas limiting treaty have reduced their emissions overall since then and have achieved their goals of cutting emissions to about 8 percent below 1990 levels. The U.S. did not ratify the agreement.

In 1990, developed countries produced about 60 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases, now it’s probably less than 50 percent.  The real challenge will be to get buy in from the developing world.  If we don’t, the problem will only get worse . . . and well . . . see yesterday’s blog.