Photo courtesy elisfanclub on flickr
O.K. perhaps it's not news to you, and instead just a bit more evidence of man's effect on climate. Eons of air bubbles trapped in Antarctic ice reveal how carbon dioxide ups and downs are in sync with rising and falling Earth temperatures, according to research presented in the journal Nature Geoscience - and hypothesizes how the recent surge of CO2 emissions has thrown that system, known as a feedback mechanism, out of whack.
Researcher Richard Zeebe measured CO2 in the air pockets in layers of Antarctic ice and found that amounts waxed and waned with known periods of cooling and warming on Earth. In the past CO2 upswings and downturns were smaller - an average change of around 22 parts per million (i.e. 22 CO2 molecules more or less) - and occurred when volcanoes erupted. Over time that extra was absorbed in deep sea beds. In the last 200 years, the amount of CO2 has risen by 100 parts (or 100 molecules) per million, and that jolt of extra CO2 will take hundreds or thousands of years to be absorbed. Which raises the question: are emissions reductions worthwhile when resetting the feedback mechanism will take so long and won't fix the climate we'll experience in our lifetimes? See Zeebe's response after the jump.Zeebe said the feedback mechanism that controls emissions' effect on climate operate so irritatingly slowly that we're going to have to live with the results of our excess CO2 spewing for many, many lifetimes.
And even though Zeebe doesn't at the moment see any man-made intervention that could quickly help us reset the feedback loop, he doesn't see that as a reason to stop trying.
"The message is that nature will not clean up our mess for us quickly," he said. "It's our responsibility to do that and whatever measures we take to reduce emissions, it's worth it."
Plus, unfortunately for us all and our thus-far efforts, CO2 emissions are actually still increasing. Via ::Guardian