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May 30, 2011 11:28 PM   Subscribe

Energy-related carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2010 were the highest in history, according to the latest estimates by the International Energy Agency (IEA). After a dip in 2009 caused by the global financial crisis, emissions are estimated to have climbed to a record 30.6 Gigatonnes (Gt), a 5% jump from the previous record year in 2008, when levels reached 29.3 Gt. The likelihood of exceeeding 450 ppm CO2 and associated two degrees of warming has now receded greatly.
posted by wilful (33 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
now there are gigatonnes? Why do so called 'scientists' always revert to metric when they have something to hide?
posted by the noob at 11:36 PM on May 30, 2011

I know there was I reason that I needed to be knocking back Vodka Tonics right about now.

Thanks for the clarity behind my decision.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 11:36 PM on May 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

The last link is very borked for me in FF4 and Chrome (although the PHP code download with the username and password for the thinkprogress.org MySQL DB is interesting and I really really hope they're appropriately firewalled). The archive.org link here works better for me.
posted by hackwolf at 11:51 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I attempt to click on this link ("receded"), my browser is unable to open it -- are you sure this is correct?

Also, the likelihood has receded even though 2010 emissions exceeded 2008's by 5%?
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 11:52 PM on May 30, 2011

The 'receded' link gives me a bunch of PHP code, so … I'm confused. 2010 had a record CO2 emission, and so the likelihood of exceeding 450ppm has receded? What?
posted by hattifattener at 11:54 PM on May 30, 2011

my apologies for that borked link, but ah crap now I can't find it. it was an article by Joe Romm at Climate progress I had filed. Sorry, it was a bit fillerish anyway, the issue is that 450 ppm is considered a bit of a "line in the sand" for some government, including Australia, and it's now definitely not going to be met. With dire consequences.
posted by wilful at 12:01 AM on May 31, 2011

So do you mean that the likelihood of not exceeding 450ppm has receded? That would make more sense...?
posted by hattifattener at 12:03 AM on May 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

Ah yeah and mixed up grammar there. The likelihood of exceeding 450 ppm and associated 2 degrees of warming (or thereabouts) has greatly increased.
posted by wilful at 12:03 AM on May 31, 2011

Climate progress is merging into think progress this weekend, so expect more link problems. I think you meant to say "the likelihood of not exceeding" or some such. I'm interested in this post, but I wish you could get a do-over or some mod intervention.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:04 AM on May 31, 2011

We're all going to die. Now watch this drive!
posted by Justinian at 12:08 AM on May 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

Yeah I was reliant on old bookmarks. D'oh!

The only central thing though is the first link. Modelled CO2 outputs have been blown away by real outputs. Modelled outputs fed into the timing of modelled impacts. If real outputs are closer than thought, then real impacts, including climate tipping points, are closer than we've been bargaining for.
posted by wilful at 12:11 AM on May 31, 2011

I know there was I reason that I needed to be knocking back Vodka Tonics right about now.

Don't you think you should be stuffing less things in your gob? You caring about the environment and all. I just found out that processing and transporting food creates carbon emissions.

Ah yeah and mixed up grammar there.

Mixed up? That's a nice way of describing it, I suppose.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:27 AM on May 31, 2011

I really think that geoengineering is our only hope of long term survival. As a species, we're just not biologically equipped to fix something this big through conservation, and we won't take coordinated action until climate change becomes a threat to a significant fraction of the world's population. Then it will be, I dunno, a War On CO2, and we'll do whatever it takes to stay alive.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:36 AM on May 31, 2011

Just finished unloading the dishwasher... anyway. Made the drive home safe.

The point is, were done.


I said years ago that we would not get the "green revolution" that was required to permit us to persist, for the while, on the blue green gem of a world.

So, I'm still doing what I can. No children, fuel efficient vehicle, fluorescent bulbs, and using everything to the last.

I've done all I can. I have sacrificed all that I ever imagined and more.

I. am. done.

So... God DAMN it, I will drink! Fine locally produced Texas vodka. Tonic water. Slice of lime.

This is the way the world ends... one bitter human, hating the choices of the many, embracing the sacrifices of the few... and knowing it won't make one IOTA of a difference in the end.

We will still kill each other off amidst wars for the remaining resources required for this modern world.

So help me GOD should I end up, eating dog food out of a rusted can, sitting on the edge of a radioactive crater that used to be a city, draped in black leather and brandishing a a dust choked AR-15...

Well... there will be Hell to pay. Cause I'm too old for that shit.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 1:00 AM on May 31, 2011 [15 favorites]

Nah, we won't fight over the remaining resources Road Warrior style, at least not in this generation. It's human nature to unite against something that threatens the group, and take any action necessary (including personal sacrifice) to defeat that threat. It's just that this is all numbers and debate to most people. They don't feel personally threatened enough to unite yet.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:12 AM on May 31, 2011

I live in a country that at the time of my childhood could qualify as having a very low carbon footprint if you looked just at the consumption level and not at all the tanks it was making. Believe me, it's not so bad and we used to find joy in a lot of things and places, essentially the same as other people do when the times are rough. Family. Pets. The nature or what was left of it (making all those tanks had its environmental costs). Finding a new way to fix the shoes when they fall apart. Watching the TV with neighbours. Smiling at people while commuting, feeling we are all in the same shit together.
I think that's what expects us - not a war to get the most of the last resources, but a prolonged misery until the sustainable economy becomes the norm and we switch to new power sources (at the moment I personally place a lot of hope in the genetically modified algae growing in the desert installations).
posted by hat_eater at 1:16 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

The debate seems to be polarized into two different camps

Group one says: There's no problem, we don't need to do anything, and anyway, we can't.

Group two says: It's already too late! There's no hope! Why bother doing anything at this point, (except perhaps build more nuclear plants)

The great thing is that regardless of which side 'wins' the debate, we do nothing! Awesome.

Also the costs of solar are actually pretty similar to the costs of nuclear, especially given the current prices for panels (it only costs about 75¢ per watt for first solar to manufacture it's panels, and they expect prices to reach 52-65 cents by 2014 or so)
posted by delmoi at 1:40 AM on May 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

Delmoi, the costs for solar panels are the same, except you can't run solar at night, or effectively on rainy days, or short winter days. The costs of batteries are much, much higher.
posted by smoke at 2:43 AM on May 31, 2011

"I really think that geoengineering is our only hope of long term survival."

I think that thinking engineering is the solution to every problem is at least part of the reason we're having this discussion.

I suggest that there are lots of other things we could look at. For example, social change, education, and nationalizing the Koch brothers.
posted by sneebler at 5:00 AM on May 31, 2011 [4 favorites]

I really think that geoengineering is our only hope of long term survival.

"In the long term, we're all dead." - JM Keynes.

Shit is going to change. The difference is in how it changes.
posted by pompomtom at 5:35 AM on May 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

This is a good example of why knowledge is not power. Knowing the difficulty we are in does not alter our ability to address it.

As long as economic growth is dependent on increased energy consumption and that energy comes out of the ground as carbon, short term interests will overwhelm long term ones.

This may be why we haven't detected any signs of extraterrestrial civilizations.
posted by warbaby at 6:02 AM on May 31, 2011

It's human nature to unite against something that threatens the group, and take any action necessary (including personal sacrifice) to defeat that threat.

And given how readily people will believe that this threat is The Jews/The Muslims/The Star-Bellied Sneetches - especially when told so by someone exploiting their fear to gain political power - it is a certainty that we will wage war over the remaining resources.

As far as one particular resource is concerned, we are already doing so.
posted by Trurl at 6:52 AM on May 31, 2011

The Eco-Rapture is nigh!
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 7:26 AM on May 31, 2011

There is a correlation between number of climate deniers and rate of climate change. As CO2 PPM increases, so do the number of deniers. I'm not sure why this is.
posted by stbalbach at 7:59 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Going to be the worst I-told-you-so ever.
posted by fuq at 8:22 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

The human race has survived epic climate change before (see: Last Glacial Maximum) and humanity, as a species, will probably survive the effects of anthropogenic warming. The real question at hand, then, is not whether we are capable of saving humanity but whether we are capable of saving ourselves and the next few generations of humans from the immense suffering that will come with increased natural disasters, global famine and severe economic turmoil caused by climate change.

Some say we're simply biologically not capable of that sort of long-term thinking but I don't agree. People cut back on dinners out to save money to put their preschool-aged kids through college. People build roads for communities that have yet to be built. People design monuments knowing they will not live to see their work to completion. People plant seedlings in parks knowing they will never see the fully grown trees.

Many are naturally skeptical of end-of-the-world climate change rhetoric, given how many other predictions of the world's end from various disasters have failed to come true. But I do think humans in general are receptive to the notion that making sacrifices now will make their children's and grandchildren's lives better.

I think the idea of making the next generation's lives better is what those of us who care deeply about reducing climate change need to focus on to convince more people to take action. As actually terrifying as climate change is to those of us who understand its potential consequences, instead of trying to scare doubters into sanity on this issue, maybe we need to work harder on convincing people that if we all act now, we can positively influence the future. No one who has ever seen a trash dump could logically argue against the idea that recycling now will make the next generation's lives better by protecting the landscape. Building wind turbines now will make future lives better, by harnessing an energy source that will never run out. Upgrading the electrical grid, planting trees, building better public transportation, more efficient vehicles, more efficient homes -- all of that will make the future better in more ways than just preventing further damage to the climate.

Maybe I'm wrong and humanity really is just too flawed to handle this problem and we're doomed to a suffer terrible downfall at our own hands, victims of our own willful ignorance and short-sighted greed. But personally I can't give up hope, even in the face of these depressing numbers. I have a child and I owe it to him to keep trying.
posted by BlueJae at 8:46 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

"I think that thinking engineering is the solution to every problem is at least part of the reason we're having this discussion."

You're right. And of course any long term solution needs to come from conservation and the development of alternative energy sources like solar and wind power. A geoengineering solution is only going to be a temporary fix, easily overwhelmed by further CO2 emissions.

But look at the first link. What's happening now is the worst case scenario. Emissions are climbing higher and higher, and it doesn't look like there's any chance of the entire world voluntarily cutting back. Not while it's still possible to deny that climate change is happening, anyway.

I'm not saying we're doomed. It's just that things are going to get worse until it's obvious to everyone that the metaphorical barbarians are at the gates, and then things will get better. By that point (imo) the warming trend will probably be too advanced to stop with mere reduction of emissions, and some kind of engineering solution will be necessary. There'll probably be lots of different solutions attempted at the same time, with drastic reductions in emissions, conservation programs, and rapid development of alternative energy all happening to greater or lesser degrees. It'll be messy and far more damage will be done to the environment than necessary, but in the end we'll get through.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:59 AM on May 31, 2011

Many are naturally skeptical of end-of-the-world climate change rhetoric, given how many other predictions of the world's end from various disasters have failed to come true.

What predictions would these be anyway? I don't think I've ever seen anyone claim climate change will be the world's end (whatever that means) but please do correct me if I'm wrong.

I agree with most of your comment but I don't think there's a point in giving any credence to the "scientists/environmentalists said THIS but then THAT happened" strawmen.
posted by Bangaioh at 10:03 AM on May 31, 2011

Wilful, please do us a favor and fix your post (use the contact form).
posted by ryanrs at 1:25 PM on May 31, 2011

ryanrs, I appreciate the feedback and agree that the post was a bit rushed, not my finest, but the central link is the first one, which works fine, and this post is slipping down and away from attention, so I'm gonna let it go. cheers
posted by wilful at 7:31 PM on May 31, 2011

Yes, because who cares about a FPP on an important topic which makes exactly the opposite point that it intended!
posted by Justinian at 10:12 AM on June 1, 2011

Erm, you?

Anyone whos read the thread (it's not that long) knows where it's at. I trust people reading this are smart enough to accept my apology about stuffing up the grammar and understand what the key points are.
posted by wilful at 4:28 PM on June 1, 2011

Grammar indeed. Sorry wilful, I'm with Justinian in the post above yours. I was all "SUCK IT! Global warming drama queens!" Seriously.

One of the rare times it was deserving of a "mods please fix" bit of FPP editing.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 1:28 AM on June 2, 2011

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