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Earth Science

Carbon Dioxide Emissions Fall Worldwide In 2009 221

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 OneAhead ( 1495535 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @11:26AM (#34317900)
    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]
  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @11:33AM (#34317990) Homepage

    Of course my argument is completely bogus - that was the point. The "(No, I'm not being serious)" was to indicate that I was aware of all the problems you mentioned, and was making an attempt at satirizing exactly the stupidity you describe.

  • Whoosh. (Score:2, Informative)

    by HeckRuler ( 1369601 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @11:33AM (#34317996)
    That's the joke. Really, you hit it right on the head. It's exactly like that. That's why it's funny. Or at least it was, till you showed up.
  • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @11:42AM (#34318104)

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @12:04PM (#34318442)

    Because either you or the journalist are sloppy. They are describing the rate of change of CO2 which is emission - uptake. The decrease in the rate of emissions is like a deceleration. However according to the rise in PPM, emissions - uptake > 0. The confusion is equating emission with rate of change of concentration, which is incomplete.

  • 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.).

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @12:34PM (#34319008) Journal

    >>>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).

  • by Gadget_Guy ( 627405 ) * on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @12:52PM (#34319348)

    Emissions were reduced due to economic decline.
    Atmospheric levels were reduced due to a climate cycle that increased absorption.
    Atmospheric levels actually increased due to increased emissions.

    So emissions went down and up, and levels went down and up. All in the same year.

    Science. We could use some here.

    I see why you are getting confused. The climate is a complicated system. There isn't just one mechanism controlling the global temperature. The one you always hear about in the news is CO2 (which is a complicated system of its own), but as you have learned here today, there are other factors like the variations in the sun's output and La Niña & El Niño. El Niño was the reason that 1998 was so hot (which is why if anyone tries to use that year to argue either for or against climate change then you know that they are being deliberately misleading).

    To explain how CO2 emissions can go down and yet the temperature can go up (ignoring the other factors), imagine that you have a bath filled with water. If you pull the plug then the water level drops. But if you turn on the tap to pour in the same amount of water that is going down the drain, then the water level will remain steady. It is not that the water stops going down the drain, but that the lost water is being replaced. This represents the CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

    CO2 is absorbed out of the atmosphere by various means, and more is emitted into the atmosphere from various sources - some of which are man made.

    Back to the bath, what happens if you turn up the tap so that more water is going into the bath than can go down the plug hole? The water level rises. If you put in an extra 5% of water then the level will increase by that amount because it simply has nowhere else to go.

    So does the water level go down if you reduce the water emissions by 1.3%? No, because you are still adding in 3.7% more water than the equilibrium. That is why your quoted text said "even at the reduced pace, humans are pumping CO2 into the atmosphere faster than natural processes can scrub the gas".

    That quote is a bit misleading, because as I said before there are many sources of CO2, so it is not just the amount pumped out by humans that is causing the problem. Some people have tried to use this fact as a reason for not doing anything about global warming, saying that it is not man's fault. It is a dubious argument, and in the end a pointless one. If we want to control the environment then the easiest solution is to adjust the portion of CO2 that is generated by man.

  • by jav1231 ( 539129 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @02:10PM (#34320570)
    You obviously know very little about the FairTax. First of all those below the poverty line are exempt. Second, there's a pre-bate for food. Open a book.

    The total amount collected by the government won't be reduced at all. Everything purchased by corporations, businesses, and yes the rich will be taxed. That's a huge amount of revenue. This idea that the Fair Tax is regressive is simply a fallacy. There's only one reason to be against the Fair Tax: Because you have a vested interested in government revenue and are therefore afraid of what it might do. The Fair Tax puts the power back into the hands of the people and forces the government to live by the same principles of fiscal responsibility we do. If things are tight and the economy is down, no more jacking up the tax rate with the idiotic notion that it will increase revenue.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @02:40PM (#34321058)

    > 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.

    Not really necessary. The US, EU, and Japan are already have population declines from existing population. The US primarily grows from immigration and recent immigrant families.

    Birth rate has a negative correlation with education, industrialization, social status, etc., so really, the key is getting the world to a decent overall standard without burning up all our resources doing so. That and making sure birth control access/education isn't prevented by certain large organizations...

  • by jbengt ( 874751 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @03:08PM (#34321420)
    You need some practice in reading comprehension (as do most news reporters and slashdot submitters).
    It's easy:
    The rate at which we added CO2 to the atmosphere went down.
    The rate at which nature removes CO2 from the atmosphere went up.
    Those two changes combined were not enough to lower the rate of pumping CO2 into the air below the rate that nature can remove it, so the actual amount of CO2 in the air went up.
    Science, it's already being used here.
  • by shadowfaxcrx ( 1736978 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @04:24PM (#34322554)

    Well, let's keep to the scientific accuracy meme here: "Cold" does not equal "Snow." At very cold temperatures, it won't snow. Ask anyone who lives in the upper Midwest. It is only at moderately cold temperatures that you actually get snowfall. So, if a region that has historically not seen snow around Jan/Feb because it's usually somewhere around -20 or so, starts exhibiting a pattern of snow, this does not prove that the region is now colder. In fact, it's evidence that the region is now probably warmer.

    While that does not in itself prove warming on a global scale, the fact (Fact, not opinion, and not television sensationalism) that the ice caps and glaciers are melting does indicate that it is warmer. That doesn't mean it doesn't still get cold, even where the glaciers are, but it means the number of below freezing days are fewer, giving the glacier more time above freezing to melt. That's really not all that hard to comprehend. What's harder for most people to understand is that we're not talking about an overall average climate change of large amounts. Average warming by just a few degrees is enough to get us in trouble.

    The fact is, as will be supported by any just about any climatologist not employed by an energy company, that global warming does exist. Whether or not it's caused by man is up for a bit more debate, though it's pretty inconceivable that a species could balloon from around 600 million or so in 1700 to nearly 7 billion now, and in that time that species has gone from riding around on horses to putting billions of cars on the road, planes in the sky, ships on the water, etc, all of which burn carbon-based fuel, without having some sort of impact on the environment.

  • by spike hay ( 534165 ) <blu_ice@nosPaM.violate.me.uk> on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @08:01PM (#34325364) Homepage

    You're confusing regular pollution with CO2. CO2 is not even classed as a pollutant in the US because it isn't harmful to humans or the environment directly. We have reduced emissions quite a bit over the years. Catalytic converters, sulphur scrubbers in coal plants, etc. However, these innovations do nothing to reduce CO2 emissions.

    CO2 is emitted whenever you burn stuff. In developed countries, we actually have cars, so we burn a lot more gas. We also use a lot more electricity, so we burn more coal. Some countries like Indonesia do a lot of slash and burn. It's significant, but nothing close to what power generation and cars do. The major effect from slash and burn is really the loss of the forest CO2 sink.

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