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Struggle to Significantly Curb Greenhouse Gas Likely Lost December 9, 2011
Smokestacks
"The economic crisis should have been an opportunity to invest in low-carbon infrastructure for the 21st century. Instead, we fostered a lose-lose situation: carbon emissions rocketing to unprecedented levels, alongside increases in joblessness, energy costs and income disparities." — Julia Steinberger
The world’s human population is spewing one and a half times the amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that it did 20 years ago, according to new data released in conjunction with the U.N. Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa.

And with little apparent chance of an international agreement emerging to significantly curb the pollution, experts fear dangerous climate change is now almost certain.

“We need to do something about the 80 percent of energy that still comes from burning fossil fuels,” said report author Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia.

The report, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, concludes that global greenhouse gas emissions are likely to continue increasing at a rate of about 3 percent per year.

A report released in August revealed that America’s greenhouse gas emissions soared nearly 4 percent last year due to factories running harder in a slowly recovering economy.

The increase was amplified by an unusually hot summer that prompted more air conditioner use.

Julia Steinberger, lecturer in ecological economics at the University of Leeds’ Sustainability Research Institute, said that the latest research shows that the global economic downturn and recession have barely made a dent in the rise of greenhouse gas emissions.

Photo: iStockphoto