Global carbon dioxide pollution jumped by the largest amount on record last year to a total of 10 billion tons, 50 percent higher than in 1990. Fossil-fuel emissions, dominated by China and the United States, rose 5.9 percent in 2010 to 9.1 billion tons, and emissions from deforestation and other land use change was another billion tons, according to the Global Carbon Project, an international group of climate scientists. The increase, a half-billion extra tons of carbon pumped into the air, “was almost certainly the largest absolute jump in any year since the Industrial Revolution, and the largest percentage increase since 2003,” scientists say.
Bill McKibben responds: “What it means, in climate terms, is that we’ve all but lost the battle to reduce the damage from global warming. The planet has already warmed about a degree Celsius; it’s clearly going to go well past two degrees. It means, in political terms, that the fossil fuel industry has delayed effective action for the 12 years since the Kyoto treaty was signed. It means, in diplomatic terms, that the endless talks underway in Durban should be more important than ever–they should be the focus of a planetary population desperate to figure out how it’s going to survive the century.”