Tuesday, October 23, 2007


News On "Carbon sinks"

I'm often critical of the Wall Street Journal, or at least its op/ed material. Today I'd like to note that the Wall Street Journal, but neither the LATimes nor the NYTimes, reported the fresh bad news on C02. The articles in the UK's Times and the Independent were more prominent, but that may well be due to the role of British and Australian researchers in establishing the observation.

Carbon Dioxide Is Increasing Faster Than Expected, Study Says
Associated Press
Word Count: 685

WASHINGTON -- Just days after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded for global warming work, a new study finds that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing faster than expected.

Carbon-dioxide emissions were 35% higher in 2006 than in 1990, a much faster growth rate than anticipated, researchers led by Josep G. Canadell, of Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, report in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Increased industrial use of fossil fuels coupled with a decline in the gas absorbed by the oceans and land were listed as causes of the increase.

New CO2 evidence means climate change predictions are 'too optimistic'
From The Times
October 23, 2007
Lewis Smith, Environment Reporter

'Carbon sinks' lose ability to soak up emissions
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Published: 23 October 2007

The study also found that the amount of CO2 released into the air from human activities has accelerated in recent years not just because of the growth of the global economy but because, for the first time in a century, the efficiency with which fossil fuels are used has stagnated.

I'm a little puzzled by this concept, however. I thought the most complete combustion of hydrocarbon fuels produced CO2, so I don't see how less efficient use would produce more of it. Perhaps more is being burned because it is in equipment which makes less complete use of the heat ?

UPDATE (25 October): Study: Warming is stronger, happening sooner

MSNBC staff and news service reports
Updated: 5:06 p.m. ET Oct. 22, 2007

This article gives a clue to how it was judged that the "efficiency with which fossil fuels are used has stagnated": since 2000 more carbon is being emitted to produce each dollar of global wealth, they noted.

It also cites Alan Robock, associate director of the Center for Environmental Prediction at Rutgers University:
“It turns out that global warming critics were right when they said that global climate models did not do a good job at predicting climate change,” Robock said. “But what has been wrong recently is that the climate is changing even faster than the models said. In fact, Arctic sea ice is melting much faster than any models predicted, and sea level is rising much faster than IPCC previously predicted.”

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