2011-05-30 07:49:49Uh-oh spaghetti-oh!
Rob Painting

Worst ever carbon emissions leave climate on the brink

2011-05-30 08:11:13
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

IMHO, 2C was inevitable from the time the US declined to ratify Kyoto.

The question I'm mulling over is if 4C is now inevitable.

2011-05-30 08:56:12
Dana Nuccitelli
Shit. Well, we've got to do a post on this. I hate bad news.
2011-05-30 08:58:58hmmm
John Hartz
John Hartz

Homo sapiens and thier cousins, the lemmings, have more in common than meets the eye.


2011-05-30 09:03:00Yes, blog post on this would be good
John Cook


In particular, would be great to get a graphic communicating this:

Last year, a record 30.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere, mainly from burning fossil fuel – a rise of 1.6Gt on 2009

Eg - show the increase in CO2 emissions in a graph - preferably alongside IPCC projections to show how they underestimated emissions. Don't know if this data is readily available - but would be great to include.

2011-05-30 09:57:12data
Dana Nuccitelli

Here's the data in Excel:

IEA CO2 emissions up to 2008 (2009 is 29 Gt, 2010 is 30.6 Gt)

IPCC SRES scenarios

2011-05-30 09:59:29data
Dana Nuccitelli

IPCC data is in Gt carbon, not CO2, per decade

2011-05-30 10:06:35
Julian Brimelow

Oh FFS, is there ever any good news...you know like EQS of +1 C?  Alas, no.

Badger re lemmings, yup that is us.  Perhaps we could play on the Pogo Cartoon "We have met the enemy and he is us."

2011-05-30 10:17:24Converting GtC to CO2
John Cook


Easy enough to convert gigatonnes carbon to CO2:

1 gigatonne of carbon equals 3.67 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide

2011-05-30 14:01:40
Dana Nuccitelli

Hmm something's not right.  According to the SRES scenarios, cumulative CO2 emissions between 1990 and 2000 were 276.5 Gt.  But summing the IEA figures over that period, I only get 241.7 Gt.  Likewise 2000-2010 is too low from the IEA figures.  The IPCC must include some non-energy CO2 emissions. 

This is going to be a bit trickier than I thought.  The IPCC does give fossil fuel-only annual emissions in 1990, 2000, 2010, etc., but not cumulative.  And the growth isn't linear, so it's hard to estimate cumulative emissions to see where we really stand.

2011-05-31 02:26:56Significance?
George Morrison

I'm not quite sure I grasp why this is getting as much press/blogosphere coverage as it is.

The CO2 emission rise for 2010 over 2008 is 30.6/29.3, which is about 2.2% annualized. I think this is basically in line with what the global trend has been since ~ 2000. I'm looking at CDIAC, EIA (note to Dana: you are linking to EIA (US) numbers - not the IEA numbers) and they all seem fairly consistent.

Granted, it's not good news, but were there really expectations that the emissions were decelerating - or even falling? (Other than Lester Brown, etc. - I mean by IEA themselves, for instance...).

I am just going off my initial impressions, but other than the headline and quotes giving me another sickening feeling - are we really surprised by this?

I'm just trying to understand the context here. I know the clock is ticking and the trillionth tonne countdown is on... 

2011-05-31 03:05:26
Dana Nuccitelli

Son of a gun, I could have sworn that said IEA and not EIA.  Thanks for catching that rust.  I'll have to revise my graphic now.

The bad news here is really that most people thought the recession would give us a little breathing room.  It seemed to in 2009, when emissions actually declined as compared to 2008.  But even though the economic recovery is slow, emissions shot way up in 2010 (a record amount, in fact).

I agree it's not terribly surprising, except I'm surprised at the huge 2010 increase despite the economy, but it is bad news.  That's how I phrased the blog post too.

2011-05-31 03:46:27


All the links before fig. 2 need to be fixed
After fig.3, you quote warming above pre-industrial level, while fig. 3 show warming relative to '50-'80 (I guess); it might be confusing.


edit: wrong thread, sorry. Reposted.

2011-05-31 05:27:20On the difference between humans and lemmings


Badgersouth, this is for you:



Interview with a Lemming
James Thurber
1894-1961 American

The weary scientist, tramping through the mountains of northern Europe in the winter weather dropped his knapsack and prepared to sit on a rock.

"Careful, brother," said a voice.

"Sorry," murmured the scientist, noting with some surprise that a lemming which he had been about to sit on had addressed him. "It is a source of considerable astonishment to me," said the scientist, sitting down beside the lemming, "that you are capable of speech."

"You human beings are always astonished," said the lemming, "when any other animal can do anything you can. Yet there are many things animals can do that you cannot, such as stridulate, or chirr, to name just one. To stridulate, or chirr, one of the minor achievements of the cricket, your species is dependent on the intestines of sheep and the hair of the horse."

"We are a dependent animal," admitted the scientist.

"You are an amazing animal," said the lemming.

"We have always considered you rather amazing, too," said the scientist. "You are perhaps the most mysterious of creatures."

"If we are going to indulge in adjectives beginning with 'm,'" said the lemming sharply, "let me apply a few to your species--murderous, maladjusted, maleficent and muffle-headed."

"You find our behavior as difficult to understand as we do yours?"

"You, as you would say, said it," said the lemming. "You kill, you mangle, you torture, you imprison, you starve each other. You cover the nurturing earth with cement, you cut down elm trees to put up institutions for people driven insane by the cutting down of elm trees, you--"

"You could go on all night like that," said the scientist, "listing our sins and shames."

"I could go on all night and up to four o'clock tomorrow afternoon," said the lemming. "It just happens that I have made a lifelong study of the self-styled higher animal. Except for one thing, I know all there is to know about you, and a singularly dreary, dolorous and distasteful store of information it is, too, to use only adjectives that begin with 'd.'"

"You say you have made a lifelong study of my species--" began the scientist.

"Indeed I have," broke in the lemming. "I know that you are cruel, cunning and carnivorous, sly, sensual and selfish, greedy, gullible and guileful--"

"Pray don't wear yourself out," said the scientist, quietly. "It may interest you to know that I have made a lifelong study of lemmings, just as you have made a lifelong study of people. Like you I have found but one thing about my subject which I don't understand."

"And what is that?" asked the lemming.

"I don't understand," said the scientist, "why you lemmings all rush down to the sea and drown yourselves."

"How curious," said the lemming. "The one thing I don't understand is why you human beings don't."

2011-05-31 07:49:53Lemmings and humans
Alex C


Oh, what tangled webs we weave.

2011-05-31 07:55:10
Julian Brimelow

Alex, updated my earlier post accordingly :)

2011-05-31 09:00:13Neal King
John Hartz
John Hartz

Muchos gracias!