2011-03-04 10:08:41NEW PAPER: Evidence for super-exponentially accelerating atmospheric carbon dioxide growth
John Cook


Another powerful new paper hot off the presses (emphasis mine):

Evidence for super-exponentially accelerating atmospheric carbon dioxide growth

We analyze the growth rates of atmospheric carbon dioxide and human population, by comparing the relative merits of two benchmark models, the exponential law and the nite-time-singular (FTS) power law. The later results from positive feedbacks, either direct or mediated by other dynamical variables, as shown in our presentation of a simple endogenous macroeconomic dynamical growth model. Our empirical calibrations con rm that human population has decelerated from its previous super-exponential growth until 1960 to "just" an exponential growth, but with no sign of more deceleration. As for atmospheric CO2 content, we fi nd that it is at least exponentially increasing and most likely characterized by an accelerating growth rate as of 2009, consistent with an unsustainable FTS power law regime announcing a drastic change of regime. The coexistence of a quasi-exponential growth of human population with a super-exponential growth of carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere is a diagnostic that, until now, improvements in carbon effciency per unit of production worldwide has been dramatically insuffcient.

The paper is predominantly mathematical but a blog post about this that talks about the end result rather than the mathematical methods would be accessible to a lay audience. It particularly has some very powerful graphics at the end that would be good to include - they tell a very strong story of the rise in CO2 levels that combined with their analysis is sobering stuff.

I'm sending off Daniel's MWP post and Dana's carbon price post to Treehugger today - if anyone wants to have a go at this one, say so here as I think this is another good one for Treehugger and the paper is very new so I doubt it's been covered much yet.

2011-03-04 17:50:01
Ari Jokimäki


Be careful here, I cannot find a journal where this has been submitted/peer-reviewed/published. Usually the journal is given in the arXiv abstract page, but this one doesn't mention any journal. ArXiv is not a peer-reviewed source. It's just a preprint server and it is being abused by some people to push non-peer-reviewed material as if they would be peer-reviewed. I'm not suggesting that this particular paper is bad - just to be careful.

2011-03-04 19:59:32


My impression is that it's a whole lot of math for a little bit of data.

Or, to quote Mark Twain:

"In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upwards of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long, and Cairo and New Orleans will have joined their streets together, and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact."
- Life on the Mississippi