Sharp increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide brings climate catastrophe closer

My posts about stuff like THIS usually elicit only yawns or a few snarky comments from global-warming deniers. But I intend to persist.

The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere underwent one of its biggest single-year jumps ever in 2012, according to researchers at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. Between the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2013, carbon dioxide levels increased by 2.67 parts per million — a rise topped only by the spike in 1998.

By comparison, global carbon levels averaged a yearly rise of just under 2 parts per million from 2000 to 2010, and increased by less than 1 part per million in the 1960s. The 2012 rise makes it that much more unlikely that global warming can be limited to the 2 degree Celsius threshold most scientist agree is the bare minimum necessary to avoid truly catastrophic levels of climate change.



  1. expdoc

    “More coal-burning power plants, especially in the developing world, are the main reason emissions keep going up – even as they have declined in the U.S. and other places, in part through conservation and cleaner energy.”

    So what would you suggest as a solution Mr. C. ? Should we invade those developing countries and bomb them back to the stone age? Do you think they might sacrifice the impact of climate change for the benefit of honest to goodness electricity?

    Practical solutions are required.

  2. Robert Butler

    And so what would you say is the reason for the meteoric rise in a single year?

  3. CT Cusick

    Unfortunately we Americans are the primary promoters of this type of life style and economics, and further have imposed it on the world as THE way to go. Bombing other countries for example would be severely hypocritical, but I think I get your meaning. This issue is quite concerning.

    The well thought out combinations of concentrated solar power, wind, wave, thermal (both natural and man made) liquid metal battery, on demand hydrogen, and make them significantly subsidized to heavily promote their use and development will be the only signal we can send to the world that our lifestyle is not something that can be sustained worldwide (taking 4 or 5 planets to sustain our lifestyle if everyone on the planet lived the same way we do). We need to lead by example. Unfortunately this is not a line item on the capitalists accounting ledger.

    We also need to start turning down our nuclear technologies before what would normally be a survivable event occurs, but causes some sort of accidental global radiation shutting down the ecosystems. Think about Fukushima in Japan, had it melted down AND blown nuclear material air born, we’d be in a really big mess right now.

  4. Craig Knauss


    The rightwing isn’t going to allow anything except oil companies to be subsidized. Doing so will interfere with their political contributions.

    Chernobyl did melt down and blow nuclear material in the air. Many of the emergency responders got 600+ Rem exposure. That’s enough to die within 6 months. But it was still less than when we and the Russians did above ground nuclear weapon testing.

    And Fukushima could have prevented most of the damage if they had better designed their emergency diesel generator system. If the generators had been operable, the emergency cooling water pumps would have kept the reactor core and spent fuel storage sufficiently cool to prevent boil off.

  5. expdoc


    You should read about the ethanol controversy.

  6. Craig,

    The problem was not actually with the backup generators at Fukushima Daichi. They came on as planned and operated for nearly an hour (and all the other reactors near the epicenter shut down safely on backup power).

    The problem was that the tsunami washed away the diesel tanks. What dim bulb engineer puts aboveground tanks next to the Pacific Ocean?!

    All 104 U.S. reactors rely on buried diesel tanks, BTW.

  7. CT Cusick

    @Craig: I feel we got “lucky” with Chernobyl, but I have not looked into it much. My sense is, we are playing nuclear roulette, with planet life hanging in the balance. The problem is we have a bad track record with nuclear given the hazards over its lifespan (or should I say half-lifespan?). Meaning, if we have been toying with nuclear since the 60’s, we’ve had an accident every 10 to 15 years if you include the submarines and the many above ground, yet the nuclear material can potentially last thousands of years before it fully dissipates. Statistically….it looks bad….in my opinion.

    @Luke: Is it 104 reactors or 104 power plants? Each power plant usually holds multiple reactors, please correct me if I am wrong. Good details though, I appreciate it, whether its the tanks or generators, or a potential meteor strike, the assumption is we are accounting for every possible failure scenario when we can’t possibly, and have already come too close, too many times. I fully expect a significant tragedy within 30 to 100 years unless we bury this material deep into the earth in an attempt to prepare for the worst, like global warming (and the expedited ice age on the way as a result), a normally survivable NEO – meteor or asteroid, quakes or tsunami, human error, etc. Sorry to have shifted the topic to nuclear, just trying to raise awareness.

    @expdoc: I think you are getting at the issues with ethanol not being a 100% viable fuel to power our economy, correct? If so, I agree. Soil problems, cost of production, etc. Works great when made from existing plant waste or biproduct, however and we should use up all the calories\BTUs we can get each harvest season, and not let it go to waste. When I said “Well thought out combinations of …[alternative energy sources]”, that’s what I meant. Of course if a person want their crop to be for Ethanol, I do not see a problem with that as long as appropriate management of the soil and toxic run off is handled, obviously.

    OK, OK, I will try no to be such an over-post guy. Appreciate all your thoughts.

    Nice article Mr. Cunningham!

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