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. “We’re concerned that if the natural sinks can't keep pace with the increased CO2 emissions, then the physical and biological impacts of global warming will accelerate over the next century.” says Richard Feely, an oceanographer at NOAA's Marine Environmental Laboratory. Many countries have agreed in principle to try to stabilize emissions at 350 parts-per-million 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 preindustrial levels."
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