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Earth Science

Carbon Dioxide Emissions Fall Worldwide In 2009 221

Posted by kdawson
from the is-it-warm-out-here dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Christian Science Monitor reports that the good news is that emissions from burning coal, oil, and natural gas fell 1.3 percent compared with emissions in 2008 primarily because of the global economic downturn and an increase in carbon-dioxide uptake by the oceans and by plants on land. One big factor was La Niña, a natural seesaw shift in climate that takes place across the tropical Pacific every three to seven years, where the climate is cooler and wetter over large regions of land in the tropics, encouraging plant growth in tropical forests. However the bad news is that even with the decrease in emissions the overall concentration of CO2 rose from 385 ppm in 2008 to 387 ppm in 2009, as concentrations continue to rise even as emissions slip because even at the reduced pace, humans are pumping CO2 into the atmosphere faster than natural processes can scrub the gas. Many countries have agreed in principle to try to stabilize emissions at 350 ppm by century's end, which would result in a 50 percent chance of holding the increase in global average temperatures to about 2 degrees C over pre-industrial levels."
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Carbon Dioxide Emissions Fall Worldwide In 2009

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  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @11:14AM (#34317774) Homepage

    After all, it's much warmer where I am right now than it was at the same time 4 years ago. 4 years ago in my region, we had a blizzard on Thanksgiving. This year, it's about 50F. Clearly, the globe is warming uncontrollably, and since we all know CO2 emissions are causing climate change, CO2 emissions must have gone up.

    (No, I'm not being serious)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by interkin3tic (1469267)

      I just took off my jacket, so that's probably doing my part to reduce global warming. It's chilly though, so I'm going to have to turn on the heater.

    • No, not at all! Four years ago, it was 50 deg F and cloudy here in Seattle. Now it's 20 deg F and we have snow on the ground. Clearly CO2 emissions have been reduced too much!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Dausha (546002)

      I know you're being cheeky, so I'm a fellow traveler.

      A friend's son's research suggested that CO2 levels correlated with temperature change, but only after the temperature had shifted. So, no causation. Of course, there is also the historic data that shows that our temperature swing is not unprecedented, nor accelerated by us.

      And while we're trying to create cars that somehow magically scrub CO2 from the air, the quality of air in Beijing is being given "hella bad" ratings.

      I wish the focus would be on somet

      • I totally agree with this. Air quality to me is much more important than maybe the weather will be different and we'll all have to adjust. (Seeing as most of the bigger claims have not come to be).
  • Economic downturn (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) <afacini@gmaiYEATSl.com minus poet> on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @11:19AM (#34317828)
    The temporary decrease in heavy industry (and thus, fall in CO2 emissions) due to a slow economy is another reason to take advantage of the situation and re-enter with a strong economy with renewable technologies in place. Unfortunately, not many people are down for spending the money to invest in a down economy. You can bet we'll see a sharp uptick in relative emissions over the next few years as more and more areas "rebound" with the same old technologies driving it.
    • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @11:32AM (#34317972) Homepage
      Psst. The recession is a left-wing environmentalist conspiracy. Pass it on.

      .

      .

      .

      (that was a joke, son. easy with the modpoints.)

      • recession -> CO2 emmissions drop,
        so,
        mandate CO2 emmissions drop -> recession
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I've heard that even if mankind disappeared tomorrow and therefore our CO2 output dropped to zero, greenhouse warming would still be happening because it's already been set in motion. It's now being pushed forward by water vapor, CO2 from volcanoes, and other factors that represent 95% of the "push" behind the change.
          (shrug)

          As for "conspiracy" I don't buy that nonsense, but it's pretty obvious the Housing Boom was caused by an inadvertent mistake by the Clinton administration, specifically the HUD. They pas

    • Re:Economic downturn (Score:5, Informative)

      by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @11:47AM (#34318194) Journal

      >>>not many people are down for spending the money to invest

      Not quite true. The U.S. Government spent almost a billion dollars to fund a solar panel factory in California. Unfortunately it went bankrupt because the chinese undersold them. Likewise the outlawing of incandescent bulbs (soon) resulted in the factory closing here, and the new CFL factory opening in china.

      If we are moving towards a green economy, it will be China/India and other cheap labor areas that benefit. Meanwhile here at home the USG will throw-away a ton of money on solar and other factories that eventually die out. Yeah I know you probably think I'm being pessimistic.

      I prefer to use the word "realist" and "observant". I can SEE the powershift from America to Asia.

      • Re:Economic downturn (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @12:47PM (#34319250) Homepage

        Yes and no.

        I do a Lot of LEED certified building programming and I can tell you some real facts about this "Green" stuff...

        Solar: effective in southern climates ONLY. Solar installations in Michigan, Northern Illinois like Chicago and Detroit are nothing but dog and pony shows. The numbers given to the Building customers as to the output and savings are at least 80% higher than the readings I am getting off the equipment directly. One customer has the entire building covered in solar panels on the roof and was told the solar has a 15 year payback. After 6 months of collecting realtime data from the building, I am calculating the Solar installation payback to be over 150 years. Their projected solar days is far FAR lower than actual. PLUS you have to send a crew up to the roof on the 8th floor to clean them every 2 months. AND do it after every snowfall in the winter. Now you have workers on an icy roof cleaning snow off of the solar panels after every storm. Yay...

        LEED certification is for MARKETING only. it's a "look I'm green" badge and nothing more. Load shedding and consumption reduction will do 900% more to "save the environment" than any solar or wind installation. If you use 1,000,000 watts of power and you reduce it by 10% that is 10,000 watts saved, a 10% reduction in your bill, and far more C02 saved than installing $180,000 in solar panels and wind turbines that are made with nasty heavy metals and incredibly dangerous manufacturing processes.

        Skylights, lots of windows, Proper building design (no not this cookie cutter crap) proper insulation and proper design of the workspaces and building saves way more than any "lok at me I'm greeen" add on crap you can make.

        Problem is it requires major changes in business culture.

        • by hey! (33014)

          I dunno. If the certification program *promises* internalized payback and doesn't deliver, that's a problem with the program, isn't it? If an engineer promised a 15 year payback and is off by a factor of 10x, then that's either bad engineering or fraud.

          While I agree with you about building design, I'm not so puritanical about showcase solar or wind projects because somebody has to be the early adopters for any technology. Early adoption is seldom an entirely pragmatic choice. As long as the people selling

        • by wall0159 (881759)

          I totally agree with you. Renewable energy sources are great, but they can't compete with better efficiency (which is essentially energy for free) and simple consumption reduction. If we used energy more wisely, we could probably reduce consumption by 40% without many (if any) significant lifestyle changes.

  • Which is just a way of telling you "go to hell" using different words.
  • Long Time Treehugger (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @11:23AM (#34317860)

    I am a long time treehugger and hated to see any harvesting of any forests at all. This is because I feel that trees are the best way of combating climate change - they regulate climate in the surrounding area. When the Romans attacked Jerusalem in 70 AD and cut down all the olive trees around the city for combat fortifications, the water retention of the soil was reduced significantly. The place referred to as the land of milk and honey became a desert wasteland. However, in recent years I have begun to acknowledge the importance of cutting trees as much as I hate it. The main threats to the forest now are invasive species (Think Chestnut blight, Gypsy moth, etc) and brush fires. The Forest Service's budget is TINY in comparison to the cost of these threats, and so selective harvesting of trees to make up for budget shortfalls has become a necessary evil. It is better to remove a few trees in one area and be able to fight off threats to the forest as a whole than to have an entire species (Chestnut, Oak, dogwood) die off reducing diversity.

    Another plus is that any harvested trees are SEQUESTERING CO2. This is important - a dead tree either rots or is burnt in a fire RELEASING the stored CO2. As part of a dining room table, the Carbon just stays there. The answer is MORE trees and MORE harvesting of trees, as must as I hate the latter part.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @11:25AM (#34317874) Homepage

    But I'm 100% sure that I'd prefer to live in a world where we don't give trillions to greenie scam artists in return for them telling us that they can fix that pesky human inclination to have kids and give them a decent standard of living.

    We need to lose about 3 billion people, then keep the numbers down there until we get our eggs out of this basket. Anyone not engaged in trying to find a way to achieve that solution humanely is just profiting from the problem.

    • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @11:57AM (#34318344) Journal

      >>>We need to lose about 3 billion people

      You've been unfairly marked troll.

      But if the US, EU, AU, and Asian communities enacted a 1 child per family policy like China has done, their respective populations would drop to 1/10th present levels by 2110. i.e. From ~3 billion to 300 million. That alone would solve our pollution problem, and yes it would be humane (no need to kill anybody).

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Feyshtey (1523799)
        And if we're lucky families in the US, EU, AU and Asian communities will all enact the practice of killing less valuable babies like girls and those with disabilities in hopes of trying again until they get their one alloted good baby. Just like China!

        Yes, it's sarcasm.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          >>>killing less valuable babies

          Murder would still be illegal Mr.. Just because you impose a "one child per family" limit does not mean parents would be allowed to go throwing unwanted babies in dumpsters.

          Of course we don't have to impose this policy. We could just let Mother Nature solve the overpopulation problem and believe me, her approach is far less pleasant (starvation, black plague, etc).

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by operagost (62405)
            Telling people how many children they can have isn't very libertarian. Your difficult to figure out. I guess everyone needs to troll once in a while.
          • by Shotgun (30919)

            >>>killing less valuable babies

            Murder would still be illegal Mr.. Just because you impose a "one child per family" limit does not mean parents would be allowed to go throwing unwanted babies in dumpsters.

            Really? Where do they throw the abortion victims?

          • >>>killing less valuable babies

            Murder would still be illegal Mr.. Just because you impose a "one child per family" limit does not mean parents would be allowed to go throwing unwanted babies in dumpsters.

            Really? Because that's practically what happens. Higher than normal rates of Neglect, Abandonment, and infanticide have occured in China simply because of the 1CPF laws.

        • And if we're lucky families in the US, EU, AU and Asian communities will all enact the practice of killing less valuable babies like girls and those with disabilities in hopes of trying again until they get their one alloted good baby. Just like China! Yes, it's sarcasm.

          You know, all the rhetoric doesn't quite obfuscate the basic truth there. We do need to downsize the population before some natural mechanism kicks in and does it for us. There is an upper limit on how many people this planet can support regardless of the technologies we apply to extending it, and how much of the rest of the biosphere we're willing to sacrific to make it happen. The question isn't "IF" we need to reverse population growth, it's "HOW". And it's telling that you can only see how populatio

          • >>>You know, all the rhetoric doesn't quite obfuscate the basic truth there. We do need to downsize the population before some natural mechanism kicks in and does it for us. There is an upper limit on how many people this planet can support....
            >>>

            +1 diplomatic

          • by Feyshtey (1523799)
            I don't disagree with you in this regard: There are too many people, and too few efforts to curb population growth.

            What I was more interested in pointing out was that someone was holding up a brutal communist regime guilty of a plethora of human rights violations as a beacon of enlightenment. Of all the nations and peoples we should emulate, China is pretty far down on the list. A cavalier dismissal of their lack of compassion to justify social engineering is either ignorant or disgusting.
        • by guanxi (216397)

          And if we're lucky families in the US, EU, AU and Asian communities will all enact the practice of killing less valuable babies like girls and those with disabilities in hopes of trying again until they get their one alloted good baby. Just like China!

          Considering that there are more women in the U.S. workforce than men, and that there are many more women in college, and that men commit a disproportionate number of crimes, it's questionable who is more valuable. Also, women are necessary for reproduction, but men are not.

          • by Feyshtey (1523799)
            Are all of you people completely ignorant to the fact that I was criticising the use of CHINA as an appropriate source for social policy?

            Are you so completely stupid that you
            a) didnt understand the sarcasm disclaimer
            b) actually believe I'm the one placing value on one human life over another
            c) I'm supportive of any mandated regulation over my reproductive activities?

            How is it, exactly, that a Mormon can be told that he has to forgo his religious teachings and stop having kids, but we need to have
      • by MBGMorden (803437) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @12:47PM (#34319230)

        The problem there is that raw numbers are useful in military conquest - something that becomes even more likely as the planet's resources get strained.

        Countries like the US and much of Europe have pretty dismal population densities compared to parts of Asia. Our birthrate is also not that out of kilter - our population isn't increasing all that fast. With that in mind, we certainly don't need, or WANT, to decrease our population down to dangerous levels at a time like this - because if/when China finally does get tired to being so crowded and wants to expand a bit, we wouldn't have the people to stop them.

        37% of the world's population lives in either China or India. The PLANET doesn't have as much of a population problem, so much as a few specific countries do.

        Or to be more direct - if the population density of the US (or many other sparsely populated countries) was applied to the globe, our population levels would be completely sustainable. Why should we adopt population limiting measures?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TooMuchToDo (882796)

          Or to be more direct - if the population density of the US (or many other sparsely populated countries) was applied to the globe, our population levels would be completely sustainable. Why should we adopt population limiting measures?

          Because life isn't as simple as just spreading everyone out.

      • by radtea (464814)

        and yes it would be humane (no need to kill anybody).

        By this standard waterboarding and Glenn Beck are "humane" because they don't actually kill anyone. Torturing people is "humane" unless you torture them to death. Rape is "humane" because nobody dies.

        Seems like a pretty weird notion of "humane".

        Here's an alternative suggestion, which unfortunately wouldn't let arrogant assholes dictate how many children people have: raise the standard of living for everyone by encouraging urbanization and free trade, and massively promote education for women. The world'

        • >>>raise the standard of living for everyone by encouraging urbanization and free trade

          Great. And what happens to that plan when oil becomes as scarce as gold and skyrockets to $1000 a barrel by 2020? It will fall apart. Depopulation is the only solution to an overpopulation problem.

          Also it's not inhumane to snip a man's (or woman's) tubes after he has 1 child. It's an extremely simple and painless procedure, and not the least bit equivalent to waterboarding (suffocation).

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Feyshtey (1523799)
            Doing anything to my body without my concent is inhumane. Period.

            You or anyone else ever tries to 'snip' anything on me without my permission and I'll help to 'aerate' you in return.
            • I'm cool with that, as it takes some extreme justification to support forced sterilization (drug addicts/welfare moms on their 27th child). But I also don't think we should provide tax deductions/credits/support for every child someone has. The first two are free (replacement level). Any other children you have? You pay their true economic cost, without society as a whole having to subsidize them.

        • by Duradin (1261418)

          Assuming free trade is like assuming that invisible pink unicorns exist and that they will buy your product.

      • by mapkinase (958129)

        That measure will further increase dis-balance between productive and old parts of population.

        At 2.1 per family, one feeds one, given that the productivity span equals "old age" span.

        At 1 per family, one feeds two.

        This is not necessarily bad, I, personally, would welcome less consumerism and more charity from productive population like myself, but the problem is the economy which is heavily consumer based and the most consuming part of populations are young.

        The negative effect on economy is inevitable if th

      • That alone would solve our pollution problem, and yes it would be humane (no need to kill anybody).

        Just because no one is being killed doesn't mean it's humane.

        It's been said that in China that fines, pressures to abort a pregnancy, and even forced sterilization accompanied second or subsequent pregnancies. And that's just the law enforcing it - there have also been reports of infanticide, neglect, and abandonment because of it.

        Just because the law itself in theory is humane, doesn't mean it is humane in its application, or the decisions one must make to try and comply with it.

    • by BergZ (1680594)
      Problem: The planet's atmosphere is warming up due to human emissions of greenhouse gasses.
      Solution: Reduce carbon emissions through a combination of economic incentive programs, industrial retrofitting, and renewable energy sources in time to prevent catastrophic global warming.
      Proposed Alternate Solution: Just get everyone to agree to ignore their procreation instinct! How hard could that be!?!

      This is what I love about slashdot: There's always someone out there with an alternative solution to a proble
    • I'm making up a list,
      Of those that won't be missed...
    • Take away tax deductions for any children above replacement level (~2.2 in the US), and encourage education and development in the developing world so mother marry later and have many fewer children due to lower mortality rates.

      The trick is simple. Help people lead better lives while taking away the subsidization of rampant consumption.

    • by wall0159 (881759)

      You're joking right? Are you really saying that climate scientists are "greenie scam artists"? If not, then please elaborate - who exactly are these "greenie scam artists" to whom you refer?

      "We need to lose about 3 billion people" -- is that really your suggestion? How do you suggest we "humanely" achieve this over the kind of time-scales necessary (say, 20 years)?

  • by OneAhead (1495535)
    According to the UN, the efforts governments are making to curb CO2 emissions are a far cry from what is needed to keep climate change within acceptable limits: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11813578 [bbc.co.uk]
  • That might help reduce global warming.

    Makes sense, no?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jav1231 (539129)
      Except that the largest sources of those burning "stuff" are not who the U.N. and those seeking to profit on climate change are going after, developing nations. Which makes sense on the one hand because they have little money, except for China. China was exempted from the Kyoto Protocols as a "developing country" which not only rendered the Kyoto Protocol a joke (because China has money), it revealed the true nature of the protocol, to fleece the West.
      • by jav1231 (539129)
        Flamebait, of course. Oh wait, that's a pun? :p
      • by jbengt (874751)
        Not trying to defend China's abysmal environmental record, but on a per capita basis [grida.no], those in the US send far more CO2 into the air than those in China. (Similarly for other developed vs developing nations.)
        On a per country basis [ucsusa.org], the US is second to China's lead.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @11:31AM (#34317962)

    FoxNewsHeadline("[...] emissions from burning coal, oil, and natural gas fell 1.3 percent compared with emissions in 2008 primarily because of the global economic downturn [...]")

    =>

    "Bush's efforts to fight global warming continue to be more effective than anything the Democrats have done."

  • More carbon is being released than absorbed by the biosphere however. The last time atmospheric CO2 decreased year-to-year (there is a slight seasonal decrease every year) was in 1992 due to massive volcanic eruption. Its acids scrubbed out some of the CO2.
    • by IrquiM (471313)
      You're saying that it's going to come down this year as well because of Eyafjellajökul? Finally, the Islandics did something they can be proud of!
  • by hAckz0r (989977) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @11:48AM (#34318206)
    It should read:

    The Carbon Dioxide rate increased less in 2009 than in 2008, due to circumstance other than human intent or modification of behaviour.

    You can thank La Niña, the souring oceans (and dying corals), and a slight downturn in deforestation due to the bad Economy. Can we reflect on this story again next year after this "improvement" has its chance to work its magic?

  • by bunratty (545641) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @12:13PM (#34318604)

    We can't "stabilize emissions at 350 ppm". We can stabilize the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at 350 ppm by reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 85%. We can do this by a combination of obtaining energy from sources other than fossil fuels (nuclear, solar, wind, biofuels, geothermal, etc.) and using the energy more efficiently (CFL and LED lighting, increased insulation, hybrid vehicles, etc.).

  • Short and Sweet:
    * An increase in carbon-dioxide uptake does not cause emissions from burning coal, oil, and natural gas to fall.
    * Emission units are kg/s not ppm.
    * Primarily should be followed be ONE cause not TWO

  • Total air carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide levels fell. Those levels are carbon emissions - carbon consumption.
    Carbon consumption is done by green plants, primarily trees, and bodies of water, primarily the ocean.
    The ocean is getting overloaded.
    Forests are getting cut down without re-planting in the third world.

    Carbon emissions are primarily done by man-made processes and volcanoes. The big man-made processes are:
    concre

  • There's no question mankind has abused the environment, but it's a slippery slope towards government mandated environment control. Anyone who has studied formation of tyrannies knows that it always starts with something seemingly harmless that removes previous freedoms, and just exponentiates from there.
    • by bunratty (545641)
      Got any better ideas? I'm sure many people would love to hear them if you've got them. Oh, right, it's easier just to criticize how someone else is dealing with a problem than it is to actually provide a better solution.
    • Re:Enough already (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Abcd1234 (188840) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @02:56PM (#34321284) Homepage

      There's no question mankind has abused the environment, but it's a slippery slope towards government mandated environment control.

      Educate yourself, Mr. Libertarian. Start off by memorizing the definitions of "negative externality" and "tragedy of the commons". I would then direct you to the fact that the only solution to dealing with negative externalities is to internalize them. And that means government intervention.

      And before you say it, libertarians typically attack this problem through private property ownership. ie, land pollution becomes a property rights issue, and is litigated in court accordingly. Unfortunately, air ownership makes no sense, and so there's no sensible way to deal with CO2 emissions in this way.

      In short: your idealized theory is about as practical, in the real world, as communism. Deal.

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