Archive by category | GHG emissions

Methane, it’s a gas

Methane, it's a gas

If carbon dioxide is trump, then methane is the joker in the greenhouse game. The flammable gas (CH4) is produced in wetlands, landfills and in the guts of cattle and sheep, and it is stored in vast amounts in so-called clathrates, or gas hydrates, in the ocean floor.  Read more

Could tipping happen any time soon?

I wrote here yesterday that ‘I don’t think that anyone knows for sure how close we are to reaching tipping points in the climate system’. As it so happens, a pair of articles published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week illustrates this point nicely.  Read more

Annual carbon budget: We’re all doomed

Annual carbon budget: We're all doomed

Cross posted from The Great Beyond The latest global carbon budget numbers are just out, and they make interesting, if slightly depressing, reading. (Global Carbon Project site – will be updated at midnight) Most striking is that, despite years of effort, carbon dioxide emissions are increasing at an alarming rate of 3.5% a year– faster than the 2.7% predicted by the IPCC in their worst case scenario, and miles ahead of the 0.9% annual rise in the 1990s. Worst still, current measures have been based on a middle-ground IPCC scenario. Pep Candell from the Global Carbon Budget told me that  … Read more

A tribute to the trees

A tribute to the trees

For all tree huggers out there, this week’s Science is dedicated to ‘forests in flux’, paying tribute to the trees and their contribution to the greater good. A special collection of articles in print, with complementary and online material, examines the fate of the world’s forests, in the face of climate change and an escalating human population. If it’s been a while since you’ve had the chance to appreciate the languid leafiness of forest foliage, check out the online video. Or for those of you hoping for a more ‘hands on’ experience, there’s a whole section of Science Careers dedicated  … Read more

International roaming of the UK carbon footprint

International roaming of the UK carbon footprint

According to the Times and the Guardian, a new study led by economist Deiter Helm of Oxford finds that the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions have actually risen 19% above 1990 levels, not fallen 15% as officially reported to the UN. The discrepancy comes from the official figures’ neglect of emissions from aviation, shipping, overseas trade and tourism, and undermines Britain’s image as a world leader in greening its economy. The study itself (PDF), though, doesn’t so much expose hypocrisy as highlight a tough methodological question: should we measure greenhouse gas produced within each country, or should we look at fossil  … Read more

Earth monitoring: Cinderella science

Earth monitoring: Cinderella science

This year marks not only the release of a clarion IPCC report and the convening of an enormous UN climate conference, but also the 50th anniversary of the Keeling curve — the longest continuous recording of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, revealing a gradually rising carbon dioxide profile that helped trigger early concern about global warming. As part of this week’s Earth Observation special (subscription required), Nature has a commentary by Euan Nisbet, atmospheric scientist at Royal Holloway, on the Keeling curve — which “ranks very high indeed among the achievements of twentieth-century science”, he says — and similar studies in  … Read more

Rational thought at risk – not freedom

Posted by Olive Heffernan While I usually find the FT an excellent source of comment and discussion on climate change, I was somewhat bemused by last week’s Comment from the President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, who writes that “global warming hysteria has become a prime example of the truth versus propaganda problem” and urges society to “resist the politicisation of science and oppose the term ‘scientific consensus’, which is always achieved only by a loud minority, never by a silent majority”. Though clearly no climate expert, Klaus feels sufficiently component to write on the topic of global warming  … Read more

Climate change and media, science and policy: is time on our side?

Posted by Olive Heffernan on behalf of Maxwell T. Boykoff The climate talks at the G8 summit (see Olive Heffernan’s post on the G8 climate talks) have spurred a recent increase in media attention. At the center of this coverage is discussion of cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Over the past week, proposals ranged from binding emissions cuts across all G8+5 countries by mid-century to ‘aspirational goals’ of cuts, decided on a country-by-country basis through talks over the next two years. As these rival ‘visions’ of international policy action to combat anthropogenic climate change have been negotiated, the June 7  … Read more