New data show that the balance between the airborne and the absorbed fraction of carbon dioxide has stayed approximately constant since 1850, despite emissions of carbon dioxide having risen from about 2 billion tons a year in 1850 to 35 billion tons a year now.The lessons to be learned:
This suggests that terrestrial ecosystems and the oceans have a much greater capacity to absorb CO2 than had been previously expected.
The results run contrary to a significant body of recent research which expects that the capacity of terrestrial ecosystems and the oceans to absorb CO2 should start to diminish as CO2 emissions increase, letting greenhouse gas levels skyrocket. Dr Wolfgang Knorr at the University of Bristol found that in fact the trend in the airborne fraction since 1850 has only been 0.7 ± 1.4% per decade, which is essentially zero.
- Invest in more science.
- Be cautious in solutions (e.g. emphasize conservation and not destruction of industry in the face of an unknown future).
- Don't be too quick to buy into doom-and-gloom scenarios. Recognize that a large portion of the population is predisposed to believe in them regardless of their supporting evidence.
- Encourage scientific dissent, i.e. provide research funds not just to those who toe party line (think of Lysenkoism in the USSR). Fund those who have radically different viewpoints to allow them to explore their hunches.