We have a correction to make. In an article last month we provided some erroneous information that may have painted an inaccurate picture of the state of the atmosphere. We stated that carbon dioxide emissions rose 2.5 percent in 2011. That figure appears to be incorrect.
The actual figure is probably 3 percent.
From The New York Times:
Emissions continue to grow so rapidly that an international goal of limiting the ultimate warming of the planet to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, established three years ago, is on the verge of becoming unattainable, said researchers affiliated with the Global Carbon Project. …
[T]he decline of emissions in the developed countries is more than matched by continued growth in developing countries like China and India, the new figures show. Coal, the dirtiest and most carbon-intensive fossil fuel, is growing fastest, with coal-related emissions leaping more than 5 percent in 2011, compared with the previous year. …
Over all, global emissions jumped 3 percent in 2011 and are expected to jump 2.6 percent in 2012, researchers reported in two papers released by scientific journals on Sunday. It has become routine to set new emissions records each year, although the global economic crisis led to a brief decline in 2009.
The Associated Press puts it in stark terms: The world is creating 2.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide every second. Since you loaded this page, here’s how much carbon dioxide the world has created:
And each of those pounds of carbon dioxide will stay in the atmosphere for at least a century.
So that update again: Global production of carbon dioxide was 3 percent higher last year, not 2.5 percent. We regret the error. And we regret the discovery of coal, too.