Epic Gas Attack

Greenhouse gas emissions have unsurprisingly hit a record high, apparently. From the World Meteorological Organization:

The World Meteorological Organization’s annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin shows that between 1990 and 2012 there was a 32% increase in radiative forcing – the warming effect on our climate – because of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other heat-trapping long-lived gases such as methane and nitrous oxide.

Carbon dioxide, mainly from fossil fuel-related emissions, accounted for 80% of this increase. The atmospheric increase of CO2 from 2011 to 2012 was higher than its average growth rate over the past ten years, according to the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.

Since the start of the industrial era in 1750, the global average concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by 41%, methane by 160% and nitrous oxide by 20%.
What is happening in the atmosphere is one part of a much wider picture. Only about half of the CO2 emitted by human activities remains in the atmosphere, with the rest being absorbed in the biosphere and in the oceans.

“The observations from WMO’s extensive Global Atmosphere Watch network highlight yet again how heat-trapping gases from human activities have upset the natural balance of our atmosphere and are a major contribution to climate change,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its recent 5th Assessment Report stressed that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years,” he said.

“As a result of this, our climate is changing, our weather is more extreme, ice sheets and glaciers are melting and sea levels are rising,” said Mr Jarraud.

News reports here, herehere. But what’s at stake?

Scientists believe that any increase in global average temperatures above 2 degrees Celsius could create conditions for potentially catastrophic climate change. Negotiators at a United Nations climate summit meeting in Mexico agreed in 2010 to try to hold temperatures below that level by aggressive measures.

The report comes less than a week before international negotiators begin arriving in Warsaw for the United Nations’ annual climate change conference, at which delegates will try to plot a path toward a new global climate agreement to replace the frayed 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

Its findings also come just two months after top climate scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change formally endorsed a “carbon budget,” or maximum allowable amount of greenhouse gas emissions that can be released without irreversible damage to the climate. The scientists set the figure at no more than one trillion metric tons of carbon emissions.

There ya go. Maybe we should stop electing  politicians who attack and/or suppress science and want to burn more fossil fuels. Just a thought.

Author: Stephen Whitworth

Prairie Dog editor Stephen Whitworth will never, ever pass up a chance to make a Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo pun.