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January 19, 2007

CO2 Concentrations

Now I'm dredging my memory here, really not sure if this is something true or not. But don't most of the models estimating climate change use a 1% per annum increase in atmospheric CO2 as their input to see how bad the future is going to be? Which means that:

Carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is measured in parts per million (ppm). From 1970 to 2000 that concentration rose by about 1.5ppm each year, as human activities sent more of the gas into the atmosphere. But according to the latest figures, last year saw a rise of 2.6ppm. And 2006 was not alone. A series of similar jumps in recent years means the carbon dioxide level has risen by an average 2.2ppm each year since 2001.

Err, The Guardian is telling us that CO2 concentrations are a bigger problem than we thought because they're growing more slowly than the models assume.

No doubt I've got that wrong then. Either my memory is playing tricks or I've confused it with CO2 equivalent or perhaps yet some other problem.

However, this really does look wrong:

Figures presented to a recent UN climate conference in Nairobi showed that carbon dioxide emissions produced by the worldwide burning of fossil fuels increased by 3.2% from 2000 to 2005.From 1990 to 1999 the emissions increase was 0.8%.

The Mauna Loa figures are here. That first number must be for the entire five years while the second is per year over that timescale, surely?

January 19, 2007 in Climate Change | Permalink


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The first extract doesn't tell us by how much emissions are increasing each year, but rather by how much the proportional content of the atmosphere is CO2 is rising. That's something rather different.

The second extract shows an above-assumption rise. Of course, given how good the models are, I can't really care.

Posted by: Marcin Tustin | Jan 19, 2007 10:49:46 AM

It is always worth going to the source:


What I find interesting is the seasonal variation and the effect of El Nino years.

Posted by: Kit | Jan 19, 2007 12:06:01 PM

CO2 is a good thing because it makes plants grow quicker.

Posted by: Mark Wadsworth | Jan 19, 2007 4:46:56 PM

3.2% can't be per year, it must be for all five years... in which case the rate of CO2 pollution is decreasing. So something is very fishy with the numbers.

PS. I've started a debate about climate change (if you're interested) on www.wikimocracy.com and I need people to help out writing cases for and against manmade climate change ;-)

Posted by: Chucky | Jan 19, 2007 6:45:33 PM