US scientists report big jump in heat-trapping CO2 (Update)

Mar 05, 2013 by Seth Borenstein

The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air jumped dramatically in 2012, making it very unlikely that global warming can be limited to another 2 degrees (1.2 C) as many global leaders have hoped, new federal figures show.

Scientists say the rise in CO2 reflects the world's economy revving up and burning more fossil fuels, especially in China.

Carbon dioxide levels jumped by 2.67 parts per million since 2011 to total just under 395 parts per million, says Pieter Tans, who leads the greenhouse gas measurement team for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

That's the second highest rise in carbon emissions since record-keeping began in 1959. The measurements are taken from air samples captured away from civilization near a volcano in Mauna Loa, Hawaii.

More coal-burning power plants, especially in the developing world, are the main reason emissions keep going up—even as they have declined in the U.S. and other places, in part through conservation and cleaner energy.

At the same time, plants and the world's oceans which normally absorb some carbon dioxide, last year took in less than they do on average, says John Reilly, co-director of Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change. Plant and ocean absorption of carbon varies naturally year to year.

But, Tans tells The Associated Press the major factor is ever-rising fossil fuel burning: "It's just a testament to human influence being dominant."

Only 1998 had a bigger annual increase in carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas from human activity. That year, 2.93 parts per million of CO2 was added. From 2000 to 2010, the world averaged a yearly rise of just under 2 parts per million. Levels rose by less than 1 part per million in the 1960s.

In 2009, the world's nations agreed on a voluntary goal of limiting global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (1.9 C) over pre-industrial temperature levels. Since the mid-1800s temperatures have already risen about 1.5 degrees (0.7 C). Current pollution trends translate to another 2.5 to 4.5 degrees (1.3 to 2.3 C) of warming within the next several decades, Reilly says.

"The prospects of keeping climate change below that (2-degree goal) are fading away," Tans says.

Scientists track carbon pollution both by monitoring what comes out of factories and what winds up in the atmosphere. Both are rising at rates faster than worst-case scenarios that climate scientists used in their most recent international projections, according to Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann.

That means harmful effects of climate change will happen sooner, Mann says.

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Lurker2358
2.8 / 5 (16) Mar 05, 2013
It takes about a 3 to 5 year average to be useful.

However, this is to be expected anyway as the oceans become more and more saturated with CO2, it would be harder for uptake to occur. Additionally, melting permafrost and increasing wildfires can't be good for the annual net change.

Just 2 degrees is a joke. Based on snow pack changes, sea ice melt, and ice cap melts, we'll probably beat that from Albedo changes alone.

It will be somewhat difficult to even the scales because market saturation of infrastructure takes 2 to 5 decades.

In order to stop just the primary effects of AGW, the Keeling Curve must be reduced to the point that it has a net zero average annual slope, which implies replacing the majority of carbon producing energy sources with nuclear, wind, or solar.
ubavontuba
1.9 / 5 (14) Mar 06, 2013
The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air jumped dramatically in 2012
What are they talking about? CO2 doesn't appear to have done anything "dramatic."

http://www.woodfo...01/trend

The drama isn't in the steady rise of of CO2, but rather the stubborn temperatures which refuse to correspondingly rise.

http://www.woodfo...01/trend

The Alchemist
1.1 / 5 (10) Mar 06, 2013
Yep. Good article. Seems to cover all the bases despite the title.
Lurker, awesome. Minor crit. about burning forests, they're close to carbon-neutral, counter-intuitively, trees not being that old.
Other than that, spot on! 2 degrees IS a joke, I can (theoretically, if not practically) melt all the polar caps, stagnate ocean currents, and not raise the Earth's temperature at all. (This is worth thinking about.)
Most distressing is not the climb in CO2, but the cause of the climb. My enviro-science wasn't the best, back in the day, but I remember the Earth had the ability to sink more CO2 than humans could produce-all things being equal. So what has really changed? Not production of CO2, if the Earth could sink it. How could we have injured the Earth so badly that this had changed? It is a true tell-tail of the problem we face.
deepsand
2.3 / 5 (12) Mar 06, 2013
The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air jumped dramatically in 2012
What are they talking about? CO2 doesn't appear to have done anything "dramatic."

The drama isn't in the steady rise of of CO2, but rather the stubborn temperatures which refuse to correspondingly rise.

You obviously either haven't been paying attention or have ignored that which does not support your desired conclusions.

Of course, none of that comes as a surprise to those of us who are accustomed to your continual misrepresentations.
isj
1.6 / 5 (7) Mar 06, 2013
I'm not convinced that CO2 levels are to be blamed but... Article should mention that when China and EU need about 8 metric tones per capita, USA require two times more to stay competitive. Efficiency distance is staggering :(
ubavontuba
1.4 / 5 (10) Mar 09, 2013
The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air jumped dramatically in 2012
What are they talking about? CO2 doesn't appear to have done anything "dramatic."

The drama isn't in the steady rise of of CO2, but rather the stubborn temperatures which refuse to correspondingly rise.

You obviously either haven't been paying attention or have ignored that which does not support your desired conclusions.
The data is available for anyone to see. Didn't you look at my links?

Of course, none of that comes as a surprise to those of us who are accustomed to your continual misrepresentations.
So, why do you do that?

Maggnus
3.5 / 5 (8) Mar 09, 2013
Hey Claudias, this from uba is a perfect example of the purposeful misrepresentation put forward by the majority of those who claim to be arguing the science of global warming. Cherry pick your data, ignore any who point out the reasons the material is a cherry pick, then claim there is a conspiracy to hide the truth by all them evil scientists.

Does this also fit your comment that there are flaws? Can you, as a scientist, explain to uba why the chart he has put up here does not support the contention he assigns to it?

And if you do, do you think that one week from now uba won't put it up with the same claim? Is this the question of the science you refer to?
Maggnus
3.7 / 5 (6) Mar 09, 2013
How could we have injured the Earth so badly that this had changed?


By ignoring the signs that the injury is grievous.
ubavontuba
1.5 / 5 (8) Mar 10, 2013
this from uba is a perfect example of the purposeful misrepresentation put forward by the majority of those who claim to be arguing the science of global warming. Cherry pick your data, ignore any who point out the reasons the material is a cherry pick, then claim there is a conspiracy to hide the truth
How is it cherry picked? Does my data not cover and extend beyond the period described in the article? Does my data not come from the very same source claimed by the article?

So, if you have a problem with my data, aren't you in essence stating this article is incorrect?

It looks to me like you're the one attempting the misrepresentation. Do you believe the data, or not?

praos
1.7 / 5 (6) Mar 10, 2013
One of the culprits are surely fanatic Greens with their anti-nuke hysteria.