A new report out this weekend from the Global Carbon Project paints a rather depressing picture of the state of our planet - we (homo sapiens) continue to increase the amount of carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere. And the rate of increase continues to grow.
The report - using data from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Earth Systems Research Laboratory and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography - indicates that atmospheric CO2 emissions reached 389.6 ppm in 2010, a 39% increase since the start of the Industrial Revolution, and the highest in at least the last 800,000 years.
The largest contribution to climate change is not cow farts, but the burning of fossil fuels - hopefully no surprise to anyone reading this. Unfortunately, on this front, more bad news. CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels (namely coal, petroleum, and natural gas) increased by 5.9% in 2010 - the highest levels in human history and 49% higher than in 1990 (the reference year for the Kyoto Protocol). Coal burning was responsible for 52% of this growth.
A New York Times article highlighting the research has a quote from Glen P. Peters, one of the leaders of the team from the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo which produced the study which sums it up best. He says, “Each year that emissions go up, there’s another year of negotiations, another year of indecision.”
The bad news is that the global A/E/C industry is a significant part of the problem. The good news is, we can also be a part of the solution. This is an important moment in the history of our profession and our planet. No one lays this out better than Ed Mazria and Architecture2030. Commitment to the 2030 Challenge is the first step. Transforming your practice is the critical element - for survival’s sake.