Carbon Emissions Set New Record, No End in Sight

Two new scientific papers report that global carbon dioxide emissions set a record high in 2011. With no coordinated effort underway to curb them, researchers believe crossing the 2 degree Celsius threshold for the worst impacts may be inevitable.
December 3, 2012, 11am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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As delegates from nearly 200 nations meet in Doha, Qatar with a modest agenda of climate change discussions, Justin Gillis and John M. Broder report that "[e]missions continue to grow so rapidly that an international goal of limiting the ultimate warming of the planet to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, established three years ago, is on the verge of becoming unattainable, said researchers affiliated with the Global Carbon Project."

"Josep G. Canadell, a scientist in Australia who leads that tracking program, said Sunday in a statement that salvaging the goal, if it can be done at all, 'requires an immediate, large and sustained global mitigation effort.'" Yet as recent international gatherings have shown, the world's countries have little desire to agree to such efforts.

Although emissions in some developed coutries are falling, owing to "a combination of economic weakness, the transfer of some manufacturing to developing countries and conscious efforts to limit emissions," new figues show that, "the decline of emissions in the developed countries is more than matched by continued growth in developing countries like China and India."

If you need any more reason to be pessimistic about the fate of the planet, the Institute of Physics revealed last week that the seas are rising 60 percent faster than expected, reports Philip Bump.

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Published on Sunday, December 2, 2012 in The New York Times
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