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April 25, 2008 02:26AM
http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSN23457127

Carbon dioxide, methane up sharply in 2007-US govt

Wed Apr 23

The amount of two key greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere rose sharply in 2007, and carbon dioxide levels this year are literally off the chart, the U.S. government reported on Wednesday.

In its annual index of greenhouse gas emissions, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found atmospheric carbon dioxide, the primary driver of global climate change, rose by 0.6 percent, or 19 billion tonnes last year.

The amount of methane increased by 0.5 percent, or 27 million tonnes, after nearly a decade of little or no change, according preliminary figures to scientists at the government's Earth System Research Laboratory in Colorado.

Methane's greenhouse effect is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide's, but there is far less of it in the atmosphere. Overall, methane has about half the climate impact of carbon dioxide.

The primary source of carbon dioxide is the burning of fossil fuels, which is increasing, with China now the world's biggest emitter.............

.............OFF THE CHART

Carbon dioxide levels were about 270 ppm in the mid-18th century, before the wide use of fossil fuels that began with the Industrial Revolution. Last year's levels were near 390 ppm, and they have been rising more steeply over the last three decades, Tans said in a telephone interview.

"The average (annual rise) over the last five or six years has been 2 ppm and that is actually steeper than it has been in previous decades," he said. "This whole decade the rate of increase has accelerated, and we have a very clear candidate (for the cause) and that's emissions from burning fossil fuels."

The rise continued in 2008, according to a chart of global carbon dioxide emissions online here, which showed world emissions of this gas heading off the chart at over 386 ppm.

"It's gloomy," Tans said. "With carbon dioxide emissions, we're on the wrong track, it's obvious. And I'm also fully convinced that we're in actually quite a dangerous situation for climate."............
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