Atmospheric carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas produced by human activities, surged in 2012 by the second-largest amount recorded, to nearly 395 parts per million, reports Alex Kirby at Climate News Network. Scientists believe this increase reflects the beginning recovery of the global economy and the resulting burning of more fossil fuels, especially in China. This further lessens the possibility of holding the rise in global average temperature to below 2°Celsius, the goal of international climate negotiations. Rising coal consumption, especially in the developing world, is one key reason why emissions keep rising. But other factors are also involved. Plants and oceans absorbed less CO2 in 2012 than in an average year, according to John Reilly, co-director of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change. Such absorption varies yearly naturally. Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann says both carbon emissions and atmospheric levels are rising faster than the worst-case scenarios used in the most recent international projections, which means even more harmful effects of climate change will happen sooner.
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Carbon dioxide’s climb speeds up. March 11, 2013 in Science. EMBARGOED until 0001 GMT on Monday 11 March.