Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Nature: World's carbon dioxide emissions rising at alarming rate

Carbon dioxide — the greenhouse gas considered most responsible for global warming — has been emitted into the Earth's atmosphere at a dramatically accelerating pace since 2000, researchers reported Monday.

"Carbon dioxide is rising at a much faster rate than before," says study co-author Christopher Field, director of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology in California. "In the 1990s, CO2 emissions increased by about 1.3% per year. Since 2000, the growth rate has been 3.3% per year." The researchers calculate that global carbon-dioxide emissions were 35% higher in 2006 than in 1990.

What's especially troubling, notes lead author Josep Canadell of Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, is most climate scenarios used by scientists and policymakers to predict temperature increases are based on the 1.3% rise. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide warm the planet by trapping heat in the atmosphere.

From The Oil Drum

NVDL: Meanwhile 5 times the landmass of the United Kingdom has melted in the Arctic over the last 2 years. This amount represents a more than doubling of the melt over a longer, prior period (2002-2005). That is a gargantuan block of ice.
US National Snow and Ice Data Centre, Colorado's Walt Meier: "It's the biggest drop from a previopus record we've ever had and it's really quite astounding." A lot more surprises are in store as we start to wake up to the world beyond opur office windows.

Meanwhile, on Oprah last night, she posited some useful 'Green' pointers:

1). Buy recycled aluminium foil (can you get this stuff in SA? If not, someone - like me - should start making it)

2) Use CFL* bulbs. Although a seemingly cliched thing to do, you can save significant amounts off your electric bill, and apparently these guys pauy for themselves within about a month. A woman on the Oprah show quoted these impressive statistics.

"If every home in America replaced just one incandescent light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified CFL, it would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of more than 800,000 cars annually."

It seems like a questionable statistic, until you factor in the coal powered stations that need to generate the power every American home requires in a year. The emissions of a single coal power station are tremendous.

3) A third easy change is to buy a canvas bag instead of those plastic bags that function only for as long as the journey home. Another nice touch is the mesh produce bag. Plastic should also be avoided as a storage container for water or microwaving food (because they contains carcinogens like Dioxins).

4) I'm drinking bottled water today (in a plastic bottle nogal). This is also a no no. The energy it takes to transport water, and to make the plastic bottles is extremeley wasteful. Buy an aluminium bottle - note to myself.

5) Another biggie is to change those chemicals we commonly use in the home for stuff like Meyers, Seveneth Generation or Shackley. Not sure if any of these organic, natural cleaning products are available in SA. If you can suggest any, please do so by leaving a comment.

We can also wear green more often. Seriously. Wear earthy clothes, get a culture inculcated of natural and earthy. I don't mean to rain on the parade. I like the idea of doing something. Let's go green, clean up our act, great. But let's also not be fooled that it solves anything. All it does is it delays what right now may be the inevitable. What our species needs to focus on is:
1) Reducing the overall population of the planet
2) Finding an alternative to oil (that means, a real alternative, one that can take up where oil leaves off)
3) Living alternative lifestyles (this implies a radical culture shift across the planet - in terms of our living arrangements, how we work, how we move ourselves around, how we organise our society's, how we treat each other)

Sorry to say I don't see any of these happening on the sort of scale that will ameliorate our situation. We've had our turn though, and it's been a long run. I guess it's something to be grateful for, even if only in an increasingly Dreamy Retrospective.
*Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb

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