9 countries making the world’s environmental nightmare a reality

As long as climate change remains a low priority for world leaders, it will continue to affect the lives of millions of people through weather disasters and human devastation across the globe, particularly the most vulnerable developing countries, many of whom who aren’t even responsible for these staggering carbon emissions.

We took a closer look at the world’s top polluting countries and emitters of CO2, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and the “promises” they have kept and broken to deal with an issue that continues to affect people the world over.

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• Each country must demonstrate commitment and take responsibility according to their stage of development and capabilities. Our political leaders need to understand that this is a global crisis and not just a business opportunity or patting on the back

Credits: World Wildlife Fund 

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Global warming emissions? worser than worse.

Washington post’s Wonkblog post.

  • One of the small consolations of the Great Recessions was that global greenhouse-gas emissions had dipped slightly, giving the world a few years’ breathing room to figure out how to tackle global warming. But the Copenhagen climate talks fizzled, the world didn’t take advantage of the lull, and the grace period’s now over. According to new data from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Lab, global carbon-dioxide emissions just saw their biggest one-year rise, a 6 percent jump in 2010.

An interactive map we created for NET News reporter Grant Gerlock’s piece on how new EPA regulations could affect coal plants in Nebraska - and the people who rely on the energy they generate. Click here for the map, where you can see how much each of the seven plants expected to change, based on 2010 estimates, compared with how much they’ll need to change to meet the new, more stringent standards.

Utilities say customers could pay for EPA’s bad timing on pollution rule | NET News

Stunning false-color picture of the Cat’s Eye nebula shows haunting symmetries in its central region. Emissions from nitrogen atoms are represented by red color, and emissions from oxygen atoms are represented by green and blue colors.

Carbon Capture and Storage #1

Climate-control policies cannot rely on carbon capture and storage

Carbon capture and storage is a powerful tool for reducing environmental damage caused by industrial processes, while allowing us to retain fossil fuels as a source of energy.

The technology requires investment, but on a scale already familiar to the energy sector. Once the technology is up and running, its installation will pay its way in any economy that puts a price on carbon emissions. What is more, in the long run similar technology may actually go beyond simply reducing emissions, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and healing some of the harm already done to the earth.

Carbon capture and storage technology is fraught with risk and tainted with disingenuousness. It will prove expensive and impractical - only a fraction of carbon dioxide emissions will actually be stored, and underground carbon dioxide storage facilities will be unpopular with neighboring communities concerned about leaks. Meanwhile, the promise that carbon dioxide can be captured and stored will be used to justify the building of even more fossil fuel plants - which means that when the technology does not deliver on its promise the planet will be at even greater risk of catastrophic climate change.

What do you think?

Human emissions of carbon dioxide will defer the next Ice Age, say scientists.

The last Ice Age ended about 11,500 years ago, and when the next one should begin has not been entirely clear.

Researchers used data on the Earth’s orbit and other things to find the historical warm interglacial period that looks most like the current one.

In the journal Nature Geoscience, they write that the next Ice Age would begin within 1,500 years - but emissions have been so high that it will not.

"At current levels of CO2, even if emissions stopped now we’d probably have a long interglacial duration determined by whatever long-term processes could kick in and bring [atmospheric] CO2 down," said Luke Skinner from Cambridge University.

Dr Skinner’s group - which also included scientists from University College London, the University of Florida and Norway’s Bergen University - calculates that the atmospheric concentration of CO2 would have to fall below about 240 parts per million (ppm) before the glaciation could begin.

The current level is around 390ppm, and other research groups have shown that even if emissions were shut off instantly, concentrations would remain elevated for at least 1,000 years, with enough heat stored in the oceans potentially to cause significant melting of polar ice and sea level rise.

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About a year from now, Qatar will host the next United Nations Climate Change Summit, in close cooperation with South Korea. In the interim, the two countries will “make joint efforts to globally promote and implement the green growth agenda.”

That announcement was made at the current UN summit in Durban, South Africa. Says the press release:

The State of Qatar, as one of the world’s main energy exporters, expressed its eagerness in Durban to secure progress in the UN climate change negotiations, and support to the endeavours of developing countries… in adapting to the inevitable effects of climate change.

But the obtrusive fact missed by the press release and highlighted by the New York Times is that Qatar has the highest per-capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world, according to UN figures.

So it might be a good idea to tidy up the house a bit, before inviting the world over to talk about climate change… no?

So, here’s the daunting quandary the world faces as outlined by the IEA. In 2009, world leaders agreed to work to hold global warming to a target of 2 degrees Celsius. The agreement was seen as something of a breakthrough, even though some climate scientists say that even this level leaves “a strong chance of provoking drought and storm responses that could challenge civilized society.” But according to the IEA, in five years the world will already will have built enough infrastructure to have “locked in” all the carbon emissions needed to raise the world’s temperature by 2 degrees Celsius. To avoid going beyond that target, nearly every piece of energy infrastructure built after 2017 would have to produce no carbon at all, and that’s not likely.