Carbon Emissions Reach New Record

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 2 2012 2:57 PM

Carbon Emissions Reach New Record

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Traffic makes its way through heavy smog in Beijing

Photo by Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

Global carbon dioxide pollution reached a record high last year as it increased by 3 percent, making it virtually impossible that the international goal of limiting global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit will become a reality. Last year, all the countries in the world pumped almost 38.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. That amounts to more than 2.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per second, points out the Associated Press. If there’s any hope of meeting the goal to limit temperature increases that was established in a non-binding agreement three years ago, there must be “an immediate, large and sustained global mitigation effort,” said one of the lead scientists tracking global carbon dioxide emissions.

Although emissions are falling in some of the most developed countries, it “is more than matched by continued growth in developing countries like China and India,” reports the New York Times. While the United States decreased emissions by 2 percent to 5.9 billion tons and Germany by 4 percent to 0.8 billion tons, China’s emissions soared 10 percent to 10 billion tons and India’s rose 7 percent to 2.5 billion tons. Global emissions increased 3 percent in 2011 and are expected to rise another 2.6 percent this year.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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