I am totally amazed that we have politicians in our country who still deny that there is a very serious global warming problem. Many have taken the “ostrich approach” to the problem. Recent reports reveal the amount of heat-trapping pollution the world spewed rose again last year by 3 percent. Many scientists now say it’s quite unlikely that global warming can be limited to a couple of degrees, which is an international goal. Not surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of the increase was from China, the world’s biggest carbon dioxide polluter.
The United States and Germany, of the planet’s top 10 polluters, were the only countries that reduced their carbon dioxide emissions. Last year, all the world’s nations in combination pumped nearly 38.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil, according to new international calculations on global emissions published last month in the journal Nature Climate Change.
It should be noted that’s about a billion tons more than the previous year. More than 2.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide are released into the air every second. Emissions of the key greenhouse gas have been rising steadily. The fact that most carbon stays in the air for a century is of great concern. It is not just unlikely but “rather optimistic” to think that the world can limit future temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius / 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the study’s lead author, Glen Peters, who is at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo, Norway.
Three years ago, nearly 200 nations set the 2-degree C temperature goal in a nonbinding agreement. Negotiators have been working at a conference in Doha, Qatar, trying to find ways to reach that target. The only way, Peters said, is to start reducing world emissions now and “throw everything we have at the problem.” Andrew Weaver, a climate scientist at the University of Victoria in Canada, who was not part of the study, had this to say: “We are losing control of our ability to get a handle on the global warming problem.”
In 1997, most of the world agreed to an international treaty, known as the Kyoto Protocol, that required developed countries such as the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 5 percent when compared with the baseline year of 1990. But countries that are still developing, including China and India, were not limited by how much carbon dioxide they expelled. Interestingly, the United States never ratified the treaty.
The latest pollution numbers, calculated by the Global Carbon Project, a joint venture of the Energy Department and the Norwegian Research Council, show that worldwide carbon dioxide levels are 54 percent higher than the 1990 baseline. The following are the 2011 figures for the biggest polluters:
• China, up 10 percent to 10 billion tons;
• United States, down 2 percent to 5.9 billion tons;
• India, up 7 percent to 2.5 billion tons;
• Russia, up 3 percent to 1.8 billion tons;
• Japan, up 0.4 percent to 1.3 billion tons;
• Germany, down 4 percent to 0.8 billion tons;
• Iran, up 2 percent to 0.7 billion tons;
• South Korea, up 4 percent to 0.6 billion tons;
• Canada, up 2 percent to 0.6 billion tons; and
• South Africa, up 2 percent to 0.6 billion tons.
Currently, air pollution is killing 3.3 million people a year worldwide, according to another new study. Scientists in Germany, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia and Harvard University calculated the most detailed estimates yet of the toll of air pollution, looking at what caused it. The study also projects that if trends don’t change, the yearly death total will double to about 6.6 million a year by 2050. The study, published last month in the journal Nature, used health statistics and computer models. About three quarters of the deaths are from strokes and heart attacks, according to lead author Jos Lelieveld, who is at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany.
With nearly 1.4 million deaths a year, China has the most air pollution fatalities, followed by India with 645,000 and Pakistan with 110,000. The United States, with 54,905 deaths in 2010 from soot and smog, ranks seventh highest for air pollution deaths. What’s unusual is that the study says that agriculture caused 16,221 of those deaths, second only to 16,929 deaths blamed on power plants. In the U.S. Northeast, all of Europe, Russia, Japan and South Korea, agriculture is said in the study to be the No. 1 cause of the soot and smog deaths. Worldwide, agriculture is the No. 2 cause with 664,100 deaths, behind the more than 1 million deaths from in-home heating and cooking done with wood and other biofuels in the developing world.
Dr. Lelieveld said the problem with farms is ammonia from fertilizer and animal waste. That ammonia then combines with sulfates from coal-fired power plants and nitrates from car exhaust to form the soot particles that are the big air pollution killers, he said.
Agricultural emissions are becoming increasingly important, but they are not regulated, said Allen Robinson, an engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Professor Robinson wasn’t involved in the study, but had praise for it. Ammonia air pollution from farms can be reduced “at relatively low costs,” he said. In the central United States, the main cause of soot and smog premature deaths is power plants; in much of the West, it’s traffic emissions.
Source: Claims Journal
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