With CO2 now being declared a danger to human health by the U.S. EPA, its significant threat as a greenhouse gas is given added importance as the leading cause of climate change and rising temperatures on the planet. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere caused by the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, gas, & oil) has increased by around 40% since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. As the level increases in the atmosphere and the oceans, we're getting further away from the solution. How much we can safely emit is in conflict with how very much more we produce - especially in North America. It's a problem that will be with us, and we need to understand why it's planet Earth's greatest threat. The planet itself will survive somehow, but will humanity?
CO2 readings from Mauna Loa, Hawaii -  link   

The lifetime in the air of CO2, the most significant man-made greenhouse gas, is probably the most difficult to determine, because there are several processes that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Between 65% and 80% of CO2 released into the air dissolves into the ocean over a period of 20–200 years. The rest is removed by slower processes that take up to several hundreds of thousands of years, including chemical weathering and rock formation. This means that once in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide can continue to affect climate for thousands of years. link  (June 2015) The warming from CO2 released by burning a lump of coal exceeds the heat generated by the combustion in just 34 days. It takes 45 days for oil combustion and 59 days for natural gas to achieve comparable warming to that generated by burning the respective fuel. This shows that global warming does not take years and decades for its effects to be felt, according to a study by climate scientists at the Carnegie Institution for Science. link   (August 2015 - Power plants in the USA are responsible for about one-third of  greenhouse gases and in April 2015 released 141 million tons of carbon dioxide, the lowest for any month since April 1988, according to Energy Department figures. )
In 2015, U.S. energy-related emissions of CO2 totaled 5,271 million metric tons. link

(World Bank) CO2 emissions (metric tons per capita) by country - Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee, USA. CO2 emissions are those stemming from the burning of fossil fuels and the manufacture of cement. They include carbon dioxide produced during consumption of solid, liquid, and gas fuels and gas flaring.  link      

See also new page for more understranding on 2C issue         

NASA computer model provides a new portrait of carbon dioxide - 3-minute video

Hydrofluorocarbons  HFCs are powerful greenhouse gases, and their production is rising by 15% per year.Black Carbon -Recent studies show that black carbon - microscopic airborne particles commonly known as soot - is also factor in global warming, especially in the Arctic.

Latest news:

April 25 2017: World breaks through CO2 threshold. The world just blasted through a huge milestone for CO2 as Mauna Loa Observatory recorded its first reading of more than 410ppm. In 2013, the world passed the landmark of 400ppm, but that has quickly become a normal reading. link



  • General information
  • How much CO2 are we emitting
  • USA information
  • EPA timeline on controlling GHG emissions
  • CO2 levels rising too sharply
  • Geo-engineering & controlling CO2

Carbon tax. How would a carbon tax be implemented – an introduction

General information

March  2016: Human-driven carbon release rate unprecedented in past 66 million years. Research suggests that humans are responsible for releasing carbon about 10 times faster than during any time in the past 66 million years. The earliest measurements of Earth's climate using thermometers and other tools start in the 1850s. To look further back in time, scientists investigate air bubbles trapped in ice cores, expanding the scope of climate records to nearly a million years. But to study Earth's history over millions of years, researchers examine the chemical and biological signatures in deep-sea sediments. link

November 2015: The world's climate about to enter 'uncharted territory' as it passes 1C of warming. Climate change is set to pass the milestone of 1C of warming since pre-industrial times by the end of 2015, representing “uncharted territory” according to scientists at the UK’s Met Office. 2015 is also set to be the hottest on record the as the temperatures are so far beating past records by a country mile - link  

          Total estimated U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2009 consisted of:
       5,446.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide - 82.8% of total emissions
million metric tons of methane - 11.1% of total emissions
million metric tons of nitrous oxide - 3.3% of total emissions
million metric tons of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and               sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) - 2.7% of total emissions  (link) 

July 2015: What - and who - are actually causing climate change? This interactive graphic shows the top 10 most polluting countries (counting EU as a single bloc) that produce almost 75% of all the global emissions with energy playing an outsized role in causing climate change. It accounts for roughly 75% of emissions, internationally speaking. It shows how each country contributed to climate change in 2012, the latest year for which comparative numbers are available. link

(April 20130 Power-generating stations worldwide release 12 billion tons of CO2 every year as they burn coal, oil or natural gas; home and commercial heating plants release another 11 billion tons. link 

The combustion of fossil fuels. such as gasoline and diesel to transport people and goods is the second largest source of CO2 emissions, accounting for about 31% of total U.S. CO2 emissions and 26% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2010. This category includes transportation sources such as highway vehicles, air travel, marine
July 2016: Pollution from commercial jets harms environment
. Aircraft are "the single-largest greenhouse gas emitting transportation source not yet subject to GHG standards in the US," said the EPA. Aircraft are responsible for about 3% of total US GHG emissions, and US airplanes make up 29% of these emissions from all aircraft globally, said the EPA. Aircraft are the third-largest contributor to GHG emissions in the US transportation sector, and these emissions are expected to increase in the future
.  link


Interactive climate map and sea-level rise. The Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS) is a Science and Technology Center established by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2005, with the mission of developing new technologies and computer models to measure and predict the response of sea level change to the mass balance of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. (Sea-level rise map)

January 2011: Carbon Atlas Map. This interactive emissions map shows how the rest of the world compares. New statistics for 2009 show US emissions fell substantially in 2009, to levels not seen since 1995-96, while China surged ahead with an increase of more than 13% on the previous year. Europe, Russia, Canada and South Africa saw their emissions dip, and India has risen to third place. Overall, by these estimates, global emissions fell by a tiny 0.1%. For short periods in the wake of less severe recessions, such as those in 1981-83, and 1991-92, emissions fell more steeply only to continue their upward trend shortly afterwards. link 

Science Daily reports (February 2011) that new research shows that even if all greenhouse gas emissions were stopped now, temperatures would remain higher than pre-Industrial Revolution levels because the greenhouse gases already emitted are likely to persist in the atmosphere for thousands of years. There would continue to be warming even if the most stringent policy proposals were adopted, because there still would be some emission of heat-trapping greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. 

December 2014: CO2 warming effects felt much earlier than previously thought. It takes just ten years for a single emission of CO2 to have its maximum warming effect on the Earth, much earlier than several decades, an earlier misconception. However some of the bigger climate impacts from warming, such as sea-level rise, will have a much bigger time- lag.  link

November 2010: Studies show CO2 caused global warming 40 million years ago. New studies show that during the Middle Eocene period temperatures were much higher than today and the warming was accompanied by a doubling in atmospheric CO2 levels. This is the first direct evidence supporting the idea that a recently discovered period of global warming was caused by CO2. link  What caused the rise in CO2 is unknown, though one suggestion is the disappearance of an ocean between India and Asia as the Himalayas rose. 

Weekly CO2 readings from Mauna Loa, Hawaii -  link   
In May 2014. the level of CO2 in the atmosphere was 401.73 -
as of April 2016 the reading was over 408 ppm.
Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are higher than they have been at any time in the past 400,000 years.
During ice ages, CO2 levels were around 200 parts per million (ppm), and during the warmer interglacial periods, they hovered around 280 ppm. In 2013, CO2 levels surpassed 400ppm for the first time in recorded history. link

NB: 1 ton - 2,240 lbs   1 tonne (metric) = 1000 kilos or 2200 lbs
In 2014, the U.S.consumed 137 billion gallons of gasoline, a daily average of about 375 million gallons  link .
U.S. coal production and consumption hovers around one billion tons per year.  link.


Fossil fuels’ hidden cost is in billions, study says:
October 2009: Burning fossil fuels costs the United States about $120 billion a year in health costs, mostly because of thousands of premature deaths from air pollution according to a study released by the National Academy of Sciences.
The damages are caused almost equally by coal and oil.  The study ordered by Congress set out to measure the costs not incorporated into the price of a kilowatt-hour or a gallon of gasoline or diesel fuel. The estimates by the academy do not include damages from global warming, which has been linked to the gases from burning fossil fuels link  (This averages to $400 per person in the USA annually.) The study also excludes damage from burning oil for trains, ships and planes and the environmental damage from coal mining or the pollution of rivers with chemicals that were filtered from coal plant smokestacks to keep the air clean.  Read the study here.

May 2009: Climate change odds much worse than thought MIT study suggests the problem will be about twice as severe as previously estimated six years ago - and could be even worse than that. The new projections, published in the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate, indicate a median probability of surface warming of 5.2C by 2100, with a 90% probability range of 3.5 to 7.4 degrees. This can be compared to a median projected increase in the 2003 study of just 2.4C degrees. link

How much CO2 are we emitting? 

March 2014: 400ppm reached earlier this year.  In 2013 atmospheric CO2 briefly crossed 400 parts per million for the first time in human history. However, it didn’t cross that threshold until mid-May. This year’s first 400 ppm reading came a full two months earlier this past week and the seeming inexorable upward march is likely to race past another milestone next month. “We’re already seeing values over 400. Probably we’ll see values dwelling over 400 in April and May. It’s just a matter of time before it stays over 400 forever,” said Ralph Keeling, Ralph Keeling, director of the CO2 and O2 measurement programs at Scripps - link

Carbon dioxide levels varied between about 180 and 300 parts per million during the 650,000 years prior to industrialization as recorded in air bubbles trapped in ice in Antarctica. But since industrialization began in the 18th century, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased from about 280 to 390ppm. a rise of about 40%. Globally each year, the land and atmosphere exchanges about 120bn tonnes of carbon, while the oceans and atmosphere transfer about 90bn tonnes of carbon between them. In general this natural carbon cycle is more or less in equilibrium, such that there is no significant net change in the amount of carbon absorbed in the atmosphere, oceans and land. But we also know that human activities, such as burning fossil fuels, producing cement and destroying rainforests, have disturbed the natural equilibrium of the carbon cycle by emitting an additional 7bn tonnes each year. The land and oceans absorb about 45% of this, but the remainder stays in the atmosphere and leads to the annual increases in concentration which have been recorded in the measurements from Mauna Loa, Hawaii, and elsewhere around the world. 

April 2015: Getting dangerously close to tipping point.  An early 2015 study estimated which fuels would have to be abandoned to stay below the 3.6-degree threshold. It found that most Canadian tar sands, all Arctic oil and gas, and a significant share of potential shale gas would need to stay locked up. It also found that major coal producers like the United States would need to keep 90% of reserves in the ground. link  

March 2015: The growth in global carbon emissions stalled in 2014, marking the first time in 40 years that annual CO2 emissions growth has remained stable, in the absence of a major economic crisis. Annual global emissions remained at 32 gigatonnes in 2014, unchanged from the previous year. But the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned that while the results were "encouraging", this was "no time for complacency". link

September 2014: Greenhouse gas levels rising at fastest rate since 1984.   link

December 2012: CO2 emissions increased over last decade. It is increasingly unlikely that global warming will be kept below an increase of 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels, a study suggests. Data show that global CO2 emissions in 2012 hit 35.6bn tonnes, a 2.6% increase from 2011 and 58% above 1990 levels. The researchers' paper says the average increases in global CO2 levels were 1.9% in the 1980s, 1.0% in the 1990 but 3.1% since 2000.  link 

October 2012: US researchers map carbon emissions at street level. US scientists have developed new software that can accurately measure greenhouse gas emissions down to individual buildings and streets. Researchers believe it could help identify the most effective places to cut emissions and aid international efforts to verify reductions in carbon. link

November 2011: IEA warns that  time is running out to limit earth's warming.  link 

October 2009: A new historical record of CO2 levels suggests current political targets on climate may be "playing with fire" scientists say. Researchers used ocean sediments to plot CO2 levels back to the Miocene period which began a little over 20 million years ago. Carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere stood at about 400 parts per million (ppm) before beginning to decline about 14 million years ago - a trend that eventually led to formation of the Antarctic icecap and perennial sea ice cover in the Arctic. In the intervening millennia, CO2 concentrations have been much lower; in the last few million years they cycled between 180ppm and 280ppm in rhythm with the sequence of ice ages and warmer interglacial periods. "What we have shown is that in the last period when CO2 levels were sustained at levels close to where they are today, there was no icecap on Antarctica and sea levels were 25-40m (80-130ft) higher," said research leader Aradhna Tripati from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). link  

USA information

December 2009: US climate agency declares CO2 public danger.  link
June  2012: Court upholds EPA right to limit greenhouse gas emissions.  link

June 2016: Transport now biggest climate problem in U.S. Roughly a third of U.S. emissions are from power plants, and a third from transportation. While power plants clean up, transport emissions have been creeping up and are harder to address. link

May 2014: U.S. emission on the rise after 5-year decline. The rise in CO2 emissions marks the end of a five-year period from January 2008 through December 2012 in which the nation's greenhouse gas emissions fell, and it looks as though a rise in emissions from coal and natural gas are to blame. The Energy Information Administration (EIA), reports that carbon emissions in 2013 were up by around 2.4% over 2012, and that the first two months of 2014 saw emissions around 7.45% higher than for the same period in 2013. link   

May 2013: To check state by state US greenhouse gas emissions - and per capita by state - view here

In the USA we produce close to 20 tons per person primarily through an energy inefficient lifestyle. A French report in 2006 (link) deemed that humanity must freeze its annual carbon emissions at four billion tons (to maintain a 450 ppm goal) or 0.6 tons for each of the planet's 6.8 billion people, much less than the 2 tons figure. In the USA, therefore, we are either producing 10x too much (according to earlier estimates) or 30x too much (based on the French report). Either way our carbon footprint is causing a serious threat. We can emit some CO2 - its okay - we just produce too much. For all of human history until about 200 years ago, our atmosphere contained 275 parts per million of carbon dioxide; without some CO2 and other greenhouse gases that trap heat in our atmosphere, our planet would be too cold for humans to inhabit.
Globally, power generation emits nearly 10 billion tons of CO2 per year. The 8,000 power
plants in the US spew more than 25% of that -  roughly 2.8 billion tons per year. 

September 2013: Study paints a bulls-eye on the nation’s biggest coal-fired power plants. A new study by Environment America suggests that reining in a handful of America's coal-fired power plants would have a major impact on greenhouse gas emissions. The "50 dirtiest" power plants generated nearly 33% of the US power sector's CO2 emissions in 2011 but only about 16% of its electricity. US power plants are the largest source of greenhouse gases in the country, responsible for 41% of the nation’s CO2 pollution. The top CO2-emitting power plant in the US – Power Plant Scherer in Juliette, Ga. – produced more than 21 million metric tons of CO2 in 2011, a greater total than all of Maine. Ninety-eight of the nation’s 100 most-polluting power plants in terms of total CO2 emissions are coal plants, the study found. link

Two years of change:

(April 2014) U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell nearly 10% from 2005 to 2012, more than halfway toward the United States' 2020 target pledged at UN climate talks, according to the latest national emissions inventory. link

February 2011: CO2 emissions in U.S. rise. CO2 emissions from US power plants climbed 5.6% in 2010 over the previous year, the biggest annual increase since the EPA began tracking emissions in 1995. Texas power plants led the pack emitting nearly 257 million tons of CO2, as much as the next two states, Florida and Ohio, combined.  Electricity generators spewed 2.423 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2010, compared with 2.295 billion tons in 2009. Coal-fired power plants provided 45% of the country’s electricity in 2010, but were responsible for 81% of total CO2 emissions from electricity generation last year. link
August 2012: CO2 emissions in U.S. drop to 20-year low. In a surprising turnaround, the amount of CO2 being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal.  link

January 2012: EPA publishes first greenhouse gas emissions data from large U.S sources. Power plants were the largest stationary sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the 2010 calendar year, followed by petroleum refineries, according to greenhouse gas emissions data reported to the U.S. EPA by large facilities and suppliers across the country, published for the first time today. Carbon dioxide accounted for the largest share of direct greenhouse gas emissions with 95% followed by methane with four percent, and nitrous oxide and several fluorinated gases accounting for the remaining one percent.

Where climate change will hit hardest in USA. In 1990, carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere were 354 parts per million (ppm) and increased at a rate of 1.3 ppm per year until reaching a level of 367 ppm in 2000. Between 2000 and today, carbon dioxide concentrations increased at a rate of 2.44 ppm per year until the current level of 392.94ppm (May 2010). If emissions continue at that current rate, carbon dioxide concentrations will exceed 600 ppm by the end of the century. Using the latest scientific data and climate models with geographic information systems (GIS), statistical analysis and web-based mapping services, the Nature Conservancy worked with a wide range of organizations to bring Climate Wizard which represents the first time ever that the full range of climate history and future projections for specific landscapes and time frames have been brought together in a user-friendly format that is available to a mass audience.  link   

EPA timeline on controlling GHG emissions:
May 2010: EPA issues rules regarding regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources. link  
In June 2011, a further delay was announced. link   From the date of the EPA's first proposals in April 2010, manufacturers raised objections, saying that the agency's standards were not based on adequate information, were confusing, and were not technically achievable. In response to the April 2010 proposals, the agency received more than 4,800 comments from businesses and communities, including information that EPA said industry had not provided prior to the proposals. Based on this input, EPA made extensive revisions to the standards, and in December 2010 asked a federal district court for additional time for review to ensure the public's input was fully addressed. The court granted EPA only 30 days and the final rules were issued in February 2011. 

In February 2011, the EPA established Clean Air Act emissions standards for large and small boilers and incinerators that burn solid waste and sewage sludge. The standards cover more than 200,000 boilers and incinerators that emit air pollutants, including mercury, cadmium, dioxins and particle pollution. May 2011 they issued a stay postponing the effective date of emissions standards for major source boilers and commercial and industrial solid waste incinerators. Because the original boiler rule was vacated, there is no rule currently in place. The final rules, published on March 21, 2011, called for an effective date of May 20, 2011 with compliance deadlines beginning three years later. link

August 2011: President Obama delays implementation until 2013The EPA estimated a new smog standard would cost up to $90bn a year - opponents said it would cost more. The rules could also have saved as much as $100bn in health costs, and helped prevent as many as 12,000 premature deaths from heart and lung complications, according to the EPA. link

EPA - Vehicle emissions.

March 2009: New fuel standrds announced. President Obama announced plans that would significantly increase mileage requirements for cars and trucks by 2016. The new requirements mark the first time there has been a nationwide standard for emissions of greenhouse gases. They require an average mileage standard of 39 mpg for cars and 30 mpg for trucks by 2016 – a jump from the current average for all vehicles of 25 miles per gallon.  link    

May 2009: China said to plan strict gas mileage rules. An estimate is that the average new car, minivan or sport utility vehicle in China already gets the equivalent of 35.8 miles a gallon this year based on the American measurement system of corporate averages and will be required to get 42.2 miles a gallon in 2015. By comparison, President Obama announced last week that each automaker will be required to reach a corporate average of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016  link

CO2 levels rising too sharply

On current trends CO2 emissions could reach 550 ppm by 2035. [The Earth has warmed 0.85C from 1880 (preindustrial times) to 2012, according to the latest report from the IPCC. link]    November 2016: World CO2 emissions stay flat for third year. World greenhouse gas emissions stayed flat for the third year in a row in 2016, thanks to falls in China, even as the pro-coal policies of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump mean uncertainty for the future, an international study said on Monday.CO2  emissions from fossil fuels and industry were set to rise a tiny 0.2% in 2016 from 2015 levels to 36.4 billion tonnes, the third consecutive year with negligible change and down from three percent growth rates in the 2000s. link

What does a 2C rise mean? - link to page

May 2016: NOAA: greenhouse gases not just rising but accelerating. The level of CO2 in the atmosphere is not just rising, it's accelerating, and another potent greenhouse gas, methane showed a big spike in 2015, according to the latest annual greenhouse gas index released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. CO2 emissions totaled between 35 and 40 billion tons in 2015, according to several agencies. Some of that is absorbed by forests and oceans, but those natural systems are being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of new CO2. Methane levels jumped 11 parts per billion from 2014 to 2015, nearly double the rate they were increasing from 2007 to 2013. link

July 2014: Limiting warming to 2C will require deep investment. Scientists maintain that limiting global warming to 2 Celsius above pre-industrial levels is still achievable. just barely, but will require an international multi-billion dollar commitment to research, development, demonstration, and diffusion of low-carbon technology. The world lacks not only the will, but the technology to achieve the deep carbon cuts needed to avert catastrophic climate change, according to a report presented to the U.N. by leading research institutions in 15 countries. Involving scientists from 30 institutions in 15 countries that together account for 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the report is the first global cooperative effort to identify practical pathways to achieving a low-carbon economy. Nations also need to commit to investment in the scientific research that will be needed to carry out any of those pledges. link

The increase in emissions out-paces even the worst-case scenarios published by scientists affiliated with the U.N. The Paris based International Energy Agency (IEA) declared November 7, 2007 that emissions of greenhouse gases will rise by 57% by 2030 compared to current levels, leading to a rise in Earth's surface temperature of at least 3C Celsius (5.4F) 

Emissions falling in Europe.

May 2013: CO2 emissions in EU fall again in 2012. The data agency for the European Commission said CO2 emissions in the EU fell an estimated 2.1% in 2012 compared with 2011. The largest decreases were in Belgium, Finland, and Sweden. (CO2 emissions in 2011 were estimated to have dropped 4.1% compared to 2010.) Emissions decreased in nearly all 27 member states, except Malta (plus 6.3%), the United Kingdom (plus 3.9%) Lithuania (plus 1.7%) and Germany (plus 0.9%). link

January 2013: China and Australia top list of “carbon bomb” projects. A Greenpeace report states that 14 "carbon bomb" projects around the world will increase global emissions by 20%. The analysis suggests that there is a 75% chance of keeping emissions below the 2C target if all 14 projects, which are at varying stages of planning and approval,are cancelled, with emissions peaking in 2015 before falling by 5% annually. "If these projects aren't wound back, we're looking at an extra 300bn tonnes of CO2 by 2050, which will make it very difficult to meet the 2C target," said Georgina Woods, lead campaigner for Greenpeace Australia. link

November 2016: Earth on track for 5 Celsius rise by 2100. Earth on track to heat up to devastating levels by 2100. If humans continue on living as they do now, Earth’s temperature will warm by a devastating 5C by 2100 resulting in a world of drought, flooding, ravaged food supply, and disappearing species. link

September 2011: Global emissions of CO2 increased by 45% between 1990 and 2010. Over the period 1990-2010, in the European Union and Russia, CO2 emissions decreased by 7% and 28% respectively, while the USA’s emissions increased by 5% and the Japanese emissions remained more or less constant. There was a 5.8% increase in global CO2 emissions between 2009 and 2010 following a 1% decline in 2009. At present, the USA emits 16.9 tons CO2 per capita per year, over twice as much as Europe with 8.1 tons. By comparison, Chinese per capita CO2 emissions of 6.8 tons are still below the Europe average, but now equal those of Italy. It should be noted that the average figures for China and Europe hide significant regional differences. link  

May 2011: Worst ever carbon emissions in 2010 leave climate on the brink. link

Geo-engineering & controlling CO2

New research says engineering climate could have serious side-effects. (January 2014) The controversial idea of geoengineering, deliberately changing the Earth's climate, is being seriously discussed as a last-ditch way of avoiding dangerous global warming if efforts to slash greenhouse gas emissions fail. But new work shows that a leading contender – pumping sulphate particles into the stratosphere to block sunlight – could have side-effects just as serious as the effects of warming itself. link

November 2014: Geo-engineering could harm billions. Schemes to tackle climate change could prove disastrous for billions of people, but might be required for the good of the planet, scientists say. This is the so far unproven science of intervening in the climate to bring down temperatures. These projects work by, for example, shading the Earth from the Sun or soaking up CO2. Long regarded as the most bizarre of all solutions for global warming, ideas for geo-engineering have come in for more scrutiny in recent years as international efforts to limit carbon emissions have failed. Dr. Matt Watson of Bristol University said, "Personally I find this stuff terrifying but we have to compare it to doing nothing, to business-as-usual leading us to a world with a 4C rise." link

February 2013: Carbon capturing trees proposal. Scientists at Columbia University believe that carbon-mopping machines modeled after trees could sequester enough carbon from the atmosphere to slow global warming. But can we produce them quickly (and cheaply) enough for the plan to work? link
August 2010: All-out geo-engineering would not stop sea level rise.  Extensive geo-engineering seems impractical given its economic and environmental cost. But interfering with the planet’s carbon cycles, something we’re already doing by adding so much CO2 to the atmosphere, appears to be the better bet, even if only by curbing current CO2 emissions. Otherwise, we’re leaving our descendants one heck of a mess or, as the authors put it, “substituting geo-engineering for greenhouse gas emission abatement or removal constitutes a conscious risk transfer to future generations.” link

Significance of the Montreal Protocol:
The protocoal entered into force on January 1 1989 to prevent depletion of the ozone layer
. A 2007 study concluded it may have delayed global warming by seven-twelve years. link   (December 2013)  Global warming may have been twice as bad had it not been for this successful international agreement. A proposal is now on the table to rejigger the treaty in a way that could help us still more in slowing the rate of climate change. link  

June 2010: Positive use of CO2. A
t algae-to-biofuel facilities across the nation, carbon dioxide is not only not the enemy, it's an essential partner to helping achieve a low-carbon future. CO2
- along with sunlight and water - is needed to grow algae, which can in turn produce oil, otherwise known as “oilgae” or “green crude.” Using CO2 as a catalyst to grow algae is a more viable solution for what to do with the plentiful gas than, for example, sequestering and burying it underground, according to those in the industry. “Putting it underground will not create a market. Finding a way of turning [CO2] into something that can provide value will,” Tim Zenk, said vice president of corporate affairs at Sapphire Energy. link

January 2012: New material for removing CO2 announced.Scientists are reporting discovery of an improved way to remove carbon dioxide from smokestacks and other sources, including the atmosphere. Their report on the process, which achieves some of the highest CO2 removal capacity ever reported for real-world conditions where the air contains moisture, appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Existing methods for removing CO2 from smokestacks and other sources, including the atmosphere, are energy intensive, don't work well and have other drawbacks. In an effort to overcome such obstacles, the group turned to solid materials based on polyethylenimine, a readily available and inexpensive polymeric material.  link

World's Wetlands  - A "Carbon Bomb"

The world's wetlands, threatened by development, dehydration and climate change, could release a planet-warming "carbon bomb" if they are destroyed: Wetlands contain 771 billion tons of greenhouse gases, one-fifth of all the carbon on Earth and about the same amount of carbon as is now in the atmosphere. See wetlands page for more details.

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