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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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  • Economic downturn (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AndyAndyAndyAndy ( 967043 ) <> 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.
  • 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 Levetron ( 175751 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @12:14PM (#34318626) Homepage

    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

  • 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: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 Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @01:13PM (#34319730)

    Considering india and china could each lose ~2/3rds of their populations and still be 1 and 2 most populous countries on the planet, it may be that china are off to the right start. If india could do something similar, that alone would get rid of close to 2 billion people. From there we probably don't need to actually reduce much, if at all. We don't exactly need to go back to pre 1800's 1 billion people on the planet. Whether we can sustain 3, 5, or 7 billion (or whatever the number is) depends very much on technology.

    The 1 child policy is a crude blunt instrument. And mostly unnecessary in the west, where europe is close to flat lining population growth. The US, for all it's many faults, does seem to have room to grow, as does canada.

    Asia is largely overpopulated. Japan is mostly declining, and everywhere else is trying to figure out how to decline. While we can provide them ideas, they get the problem enough that there's no value in us trying to help them along.

    The question becomes south america and africa. Africa probably has quite a lot of room to grow as they get technology, but I really don't know. They are poor, and weak, china is rich, strong, and in need of space, and india is rapidly becoming the same (and is close), this makes for a dangerous combination. I think south america is on the cusp of hitting the standard of living that would push populations to a flatline of growth.

    I wouldn't be all that surprised if we could comfortably sustain 5 or 6 billion people on earth. The world population was between about 700 million and 1 billion until 1800, but we've expanded to a lot more land, and had a lot of technological improvements since then. That's not to say we can't do better. But I think as places like indonesia, vietnamn and the indian sub continent all start to confront the challenges of dealing with massive populations they're going to start to decline naturally on their own. China is there already. Europe and Japan have been there for a while.

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @01:19PM (#34319834) Journal

    Difficult to cite television shows. But just last week NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, Syfy, Bravo, Telemundo, etc celebrated "green week" and it included some of those tales about how heat waves prove global warming.

    I also thought it was funny when they said last winter's record snowfall proved global warming as well. Something about warmer air holding more snow. Yeah. Sure. Except it wasn't a record anywhere but Baltimore and DC. Elsewhere like PennsylvaniA the snowfall was not unusual, AND the record was set in the 1950s (5 feet).

  • 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.

  • by TooMuchToDo ( 882796 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @03:25PM (#34321608)

    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.

  • Re:Economic downturn (Score:4, Interesting)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @03:49PM (#34322034) Journal

    You know it helps if you READ instead of guess. I said *90s* not 70s, and the specific *regulation* (not law) made it impossible for banks to refuse mortgages, else they'd be charged with racism by the U.S. government. This is what caused the housing boom because it allowed *anyone* to buy a house, even if they were too poor to afford it.

    LINK to the specific moment that caused the housing boom: []

  • by Bill Dog ( 726542 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @08:53PM (#34325850) Journal

    Likewise given a choice between watching millions starve to death circa 2030 due to overpopulation and not enough food to go-round, or imposing a one baby policy, I'm choosing the second as more humane.

    Libertarians don't believe that it's your choice to make for everyone else. Nor to say what the choices are for others. Personal opinions about what might be more humane/less cold-hearted notwithstanding. You may only impose things on yourself.

    You may, however, try to persuade others to voluntarily go along with what you think is important.

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"