We Are Hot-Boxing Ourselves With Dangerous Gases at a Furious Pace

<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=63693187">Lasse Kristensen</a>/Shutterstock

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Global greenhouse gas emissions were way up in 2012, which shows that the world’s (admittedly limited) efforts to stop hot-boxing ourselves with dangerous gases aren’t going very well.

The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased by 2.67 parts per million last year. That puts us at 395 parts per million, according to scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—which is already well past the 350 ppm that some scientists say is ideal for keeping the planet livable. The Associated Press first reported on the jump in emissions:

That’s the second highest rise in carbon emissions since record-keeping began in 1959. The measurements are taken from air samples captured away from civilization near a volcano in Mauna Loa, Hawaii.

More coal-burning power plants, especially in the developing world, are the main reason emissions keep going up—even as they have declined in the U.S. and other places, in part through conservation and cleaner energy.

Scientists note that this is the second-largest annual increase in CO2 that they’ve seen since they’ve been recording it. Only 1998 was higher, at 2.93 parts per million. Between 2000 and 2010, humans put an average of 2 million additional ppm into the atmosphere each year.

All of this is just another indication that we’re likely to blow right past the goal of keeping the global average temperature increase to 2°C (3.6°F) that world leaders have agreed to and continue on toward 4° or more by as early as 2060.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend