Total Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide – 3,000 Gigtonnes

Carbon dioxide in earth’s atmosphere is considered a trace gas currently occurring at an average concentration of about 385 parts per million by volume or 582 parts per million by mass. The mass of the Earth atmosphere is 5.14×1018 kg, so the total mass of atmospheric carbon dioxide is 3.0×1015 kg (3,000 gigatonnes). Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide fluctuate slightly with the change of the seasons, driven primarily by seasonal plant growth in the Northern Hemisphere. Concentrations of carbon dioxide fall during the northern spring and summer as plants consume the gas, and rise during the northern autumn and winter as plants go dormant, die and decay. Concentrations also vary considerably on a regional basis: in urban areas it is generally higher and indoors it can reach 10 times the background atmospheric concentration.

via Carbon dioxide – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Obama’s Energy Chief Pick: Steven Chu

From Energy@Berkeley: Solutions for Global Warming

18:05 Energy efficiency and conservation is and will remain the lowest hanging fruit for the next several decades, there’s no question about this.

Free markets fail when there is what’s called a commons problem. So what’s a commons problem ? It’s a common shared resource. The fish in the ocean is a common shared resource, and so when one country or one sector doesn’t have total control over this resource, they might think “well, I gotta fish what I can fish, because someone else might over fish and cheat me out of my fair share”, let me put it bluntly, that’s typically what happens , that also happens in air and water pollution issues, sharing of water resources across borders, and the climate change issue and greenhouse gasses is the ultimate commons problem.

The choice of Steven Chu provides strong clues as to the direction of Obama’s upcoming Green New Deal:

21:15 Buildings are 40% of the energy consumption in the United States … Many many progressive architects tell me you can save a factor of two in energy which would have a payback in five years or less.

Obama’s Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere: Marine Biologist Jane Lubchenco

From Select Committee Oceans Hearing:

“Americans told us they wanted:
safe seafood, healthy seafood, number one,
number two clean beaches,
number three, abundant wildlife,
number four stable fisheries -no more of this boom and bust and closures,
and fifth, vibrant coastal communities.
Now I think that’s a really nice summary and synthesis of the way Americans think about oceans. And I think that they truly understand that they appreciate them, they want these things. What they don’t understand is that all of those things depend on healthy, productive, and resilient ecosystems and that’s not what we’re seeing now, we’re seeing serious degradation and disruption and depletion, and climate change is going to exacerbate that very, very seriously.” ~ Jane Lubchenco

Jump ahead to 4:45 for Jane Lubchenco’s part.

Obama’s Science Advisor: Climate Change Expert John Holdren

From John Holdren’s 7/7 Harvard Talk: Global Warming: What do we know and should do.

“I actually thought the biggest shortcoming in Kyoto achetecture, besides focusing on absolute reductions from 1990 which has a lot of problems, was that if focused altogether too much on targets and not enough on mechanisms. …in a way, focusing on exactly where you need to be by exactly what time is not as important as figuring out what you’re going to do to bend the curve away from this business as usual growth that we’re now on.”

“This climate change challenge is certainly one of the most interdisciplinary problems that society has ever faced in the way it links and requires understandings from science, from engineering, from economics, from policy analysis, from politics, in order to understand both what is needed and how to get there.”

Article on Carbon Trading

via Carbon Trading: Environmental Godsend or Giant Shell Game? | Global Warming | DISCOVER Magazine.

…According to Larry Lohmann, a researcher with the U.K.-based nonprofit the Corner House and editor of a book criticizing the carbon trade, “Even here in Europe, we’re nowhere near being in possession of the technology and enforcement we would need to run a respectable cap-and-trade program, which we’re already supposedly running. The margin of error for what’s coming out of the stacks is way too wide to say whether emitters are in compliance with regulations. And when it’s left up to the companies to do the reporting, they have a huge amount of discretion in saying how much they’re emitting.”

Al Gore: “a compelling moral purpose”

From his speech at the Poznan climate talks December ’08 full text here:

We must link poverty reduction with the sharp reduction of CO2 emissions, including reduced emissions from deforestation with reform of the clean development mechanism and adequate funding for adaptation that is essential and must be financed even though obviously mitigation and prevention are the primary task because without them adaptation would ultimately prove to be impossible.

… Our children have a right to hold us to a higher standard when the future of all human civilization is hanging in the balance. They deserve better, and politicians who sit on their hands and do nothing to confront the greatest challenge humankind has ever faced. This crisis does offer us the chance to experience what few generations have had the privilege of experiencing, a generational mission, a compelling moral purpose, a shared cause and the opportunity to put aside the pettiness and conflict of politics and narrower concerns to embrace a genuine moral generational mission. I believe that it is time between now and the gathering in Copenhagen 1 year from now for heads of state to become personally involved in meeting several times between Poznan and Copenhagen. I don’t think that they can stay disengaged from this process any longer.


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