Carbon Emissions Experience Record Annual Increase
Emissions of carbon dioxide saw their largest ever single-year increase in 2010, with levels of the heat-trapping greenhouse gases surpassing the so-called “worst case scenario” that climate experts described just four years ago, various media outlets reported Friday.
According to Seth Borenstein of the Associated Press, the U.S. Department of Energy has determined that global carbon emissions increased 564 million tons from 2009 through 2010.
That 6% increase, says Borenstein, is larger than the total emissions for every country on Earth except for China, India, and the United States.
Additionally, AFP reporter Kerry Sheridan reports that China was the largest offender, with a more than 233 million ton increase. The U.S. was a distant second with 65 million tons, followed by India with nearly 53 million tons more over the same time period.
The data, which was posted online last week, also showed “significant spikes” in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Russia, Poland and Kazakhstan, according to Sheridan.
“It’s big,” Tom Boden, the director of the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center Environmental Sciences Division at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, told AFP in a November 4 interview. “Our data go back to 1751, even before the Industrial Revolution. Never before have we seen a 500-million-metric-ton carbon increase in a single year.”
The news wasn’t all bad, however. Boden told Sheridan that the results showed that manufacturing industries were rebounding, and that increased emissions from transportation vehicles showed that people were travelling again — both promising signs in the economic sense.
“From an emissions standpoint, the global financial crisis seems to be over,” he told Borenstein.
Additionally, some nations, including Switzerland, Spain, New Zealand, and Pakistan, showed decreases in their total carbon emissions from 2009 to 2010. However, the primary reaction to the Department of Energy’s findings was not positive in nature.
Granger Morgan, head of the engineering and public policy department at Carnegie Mellon University, called the figures “really dismaying,” telling the AP, “We are building up a horrible legacy for our children and grandchildren.”
“This is very bad news,” added University of St. Thomas School of Engineering Associate Professor John Abraham, in an interview with AFP. “These results show that it will be harder to make the tough cuts to emissions if we are to head off a climate crisis.”
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