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Largest Carbon Dioxide Spike in History Reported for 2010

CO2-spikesThe amount of global warming gases sent into the atmosphere made an unprecedented jump in 2010, according to the US Department of Energy’s latest world data on carbon dioxide emissions. The 512 million metric ton increase amounted to a near six percent rise between 2009 and 2010, going from 8.6 billion metric tons to 9.1 billion.

At the first “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the concentration of the greenhouse gas CO2 was at 360 parts per million (ppm). In the 20 years since, it has risen to 390 ppm — and there is no end in sight to the upward trend. Year after year, representatives from almost 200 countries negotiate over how much they’ll have to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

The current CO2-reduction agreement for industrial countries expires at the end of 2012 with the end of the Kyoto Protocol’s timeframe. However, Russia, Canada and Japan have refused to agree to new requirements as long as China and other developing nations are not included. Additionally, United States and other industrialized nations are demanding that China join the international community in obliging itself to reduce its emissions. China argues that is still a developing nation and will not participate.

Some countries, like Switzerland, Azerbaijan, Slovakia, Spain, New Zealand and Pakistan actually showed slight declines from 2009 to 2010. However, much of Europe showed a moderate incline. China alone was the biggest polluter with a spike of 212 million metric tons in 2010 over 2009, compared to 59 million metric tons more from the United States and 48 million metric tons more from India.

If CO2 emissions continue to rise, the UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) model will need to be recalculated.  In their calculations there is one crucial figure: 1,000 gigatons. That represents the entire amount of carbon that mankind can still emit without surpassing the 2-degree goal. If average global temperatures rise by more than this amount, there will hardly be any way to impede drastic climate changes and processes that will be irreversible over the long term, such as the total melting of Greenland’s glaciers.



Traufetter, Gerald, November 4,2011. “Rapid Spike in CO2 Emissions Shocks Researchers.”,1518,795978,00.html

Sheridan, Kerry, November 4, 2011. “Biggest spike ever in global warming gases: US.”

API, November 4, 2011. “Biggest spike ever in global warming gases.”

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