Saturday, May 26, 2007

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Accelerate

An Australian report released this week claims that greenhouse gas emissions have been increasing at a more rapid pace since 2000 than they were during the 1990s. Australia's peak scientific body, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, pegs the growth rate at 3 percent a year since 2000 as opposed to 1 percent a year during the 1990s.

According to lead author Mike Raupach, the driving factor for this change has been the fact that "we're burning more carbon per dollar of wealth created."

The report highlights the failure of the Kyoto agreement to have any significant impact. Both Australia and the U.S. refused to sign the treated, India and China were never part of the treaty, and even some of the countries that did sign have made only limited progress. Now, a decade after the treaty, we find the the problem is worsening at an accelerating pace.

On top to increasing levels of human caused global warming emissions, more and more positive feedback loops are being discovered. A study released by Brazilian scientists earlier this month reports that large dams emit nearly 115 million tons of methane every year from the decomposing organic materials in the reservoir. This would rank dams among the top contributors of human caused global warming gasses.

Forecasts for future warming will now have to be adjusted to take into account the increasing rate of global warming gas emissions. For people trying to plan for the future, incremental changes in our present lifestyle seem increasingly unlikely to be able to make a significant difference. We need to be thinking about a Plan B not only for our own lifestyle, but for the majority of the population that won't seriously consider change until the dramatic effects of climate change are upon them.


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