With a growing consensus among climate scientists that the unabated release of greenhouse gases will have dire effects on our planet's ecosystems by century's end, one might expect to see, at least, a leveling-off of global carbon output. But despite our increasing awareness and discussions of climate change, the problem, it seems, is only getting worse. According to calculations released by the U.S. Department of Energy, global carbon output in 2010 wasn't just a little higher than the year before -- it saw the most dramatic jump ever recorded. Ever. By comparison, it makes climatologists' 'worst case' scenario outlined in 2007 look optimistic.
The Associate Press reports that in 2010 the world saw a spike signifying a whopping 6 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 2009. All told, that means there were 564 million more tons of CO2 pumped into the atmosphere last year than the year prior -- and the major emitters are who you might expect. China and the United States account for half the jump, spurred largely by manufacturing's continued recovery from the global economic crisis.
Last year's spike in greenhouse gas emissions were so high, in fact, that they even exceeded the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 'worst case' scenario set in 2007. In this model, which considers global pollution output, by the end of this century average temperatures could rise as much as 11°F.
Carnegie Mellon University's head of engineering and public policy, Granger Morgan, describes his reaction to news of the spike in carbon dioxide emissions, and what a lack of action means for the future, to the AP: "Really dismaying. We are building up a horrible legacy for our children and grandchildren."