Global Emissions of Carbon Dioxide Shot Up in 2010

Global emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide shot up in 2010. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that carbon dioxide emissions grew globally by 564 million tons, which is an increase of about 6%. It’s the biggest increase in emissions on record, almost as much by itself as the entire nation of India emits in a year.

That’s bad news, especially in the light of the recent research by a group of climate skeptics confirming what most climate scientists already firmly believed: the world is warming fast. The Department of Energy numbers show that carbon dioxide emissions have grown faster than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s worst-case scenario estimates from just 2007—estimates that at the time were widely criticized for being too alarmist. The growth in emissions puts the planet on a path to warm 10 degrees or so by the end of the century.

The rapid growth in emissions is a sign—if you want to look on the bright side—that the world economy is recovering. The growth in emissions seems to be driven by economic recovery in countries like India and China, which burn a lot of coal to supply their energy needs. Besides the fact that economic growth is otherwise generally a good thing, the fact that the recent jump is driven by the recovery probably means that emissions won’t continue to grow as much every year as they are right now.

As Joe Romm notes, it also means that the U.S. is clearly no longer the world’s primary producer of greenhouse gases. China now emits 50% more carbon dioxide than the U.S. That gap will only get wider as China’s growth continues to outpace the U.S.', especially as long as China continues to rely on emissions-intensive energy sources like coal. And it means, among other things, that even if the U.S. can get its own emissions under control, reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will require international diplomacy.

There are no easy solutions. It’s not simply a matter of using energy more efficiently, because lowering the cost of consuming energy creates an incentive for us to use more of it. So reducing our emissions will almost certainly mean making a difficult choice to forgo some production in order to pollute less. And while the countries that—unlike the U.S.—signed the Kyoto Protocol have managed to reduce their carbon emissions substantially, they managed to partly avoid that choice only by shifting their production to China, effectively outsourcing some of their emissions to the Chinese. The rapid growth in Chinese emissions, in other words, is almost certainly caused by efforts to reduce emissions in Kyoto countries by moving production to China. That means if we are going to get greenhouse gases under control, the U.S. and China are going to have to start working together with the rest of the world soon to reduce their emissions.

Photo: Todd Klassy

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to good health and well-being

Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.

Image courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
  • As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
  • If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
  • Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
  • By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
Keep reading Show less

22 months of war - condensed in a 1-minute video

No, the Syrian civil war is not over. But it might be soon. Time for a recap

Strange Maps
  • The War in Syria has dropped off the radar, but it's not over (yet)
  • This 1-minute video shows how the fronts have moved – and stabilised – over the past 22 months
  • Watching this video may leave you both better informed, and slightly queasy: does war need a generic rock soundtrack?
Keep reading Show less

Bespoke suicide pods now available for death in style

Sarco assisted suicide pods come in three different styles, and allow you to die quickly and painlessly. They're even quite beautiful to look at.

The Sarco assisted suicide pod
Technology & Innovation

Death: it happens to everyone (except, apparently, Keanu Reeves). But while the impoverished and lower-class people of the world die in the same ol' ways—cancer, heart disease, and so forth—the upper classes can choose hip and cool new ways to die. Now, there's an assisted-suicide pod so chic and so stylin' that peeps (young people still say peeps, right?) are calling it the "Tesla" of death... it's called... the Sarco! 

Keep reading Show less

How to bring more confidence to your conversations

Entrepreneur and author Andrew Horn shares his rules for becoming an assured conversationalist.
  • To avoid basing action on external validation, you need to find your "authentic voice" and use it.
  • Finding your voice requires asking the right questions of yourself.
  • There are 3-5 questions that you would generally want to ask people you are talking to.
Keep reading Show less