Here's a dried-out lake in the Chaco region of Paraguay, 400 km north of Asuncion. The region has been experiencing an unprecedented drought that's lasted months, and the government has declared a State of Emergency. (That's a dead cow in the background.) Perhaps not coincidentally, yesterday the Australia-based Global Carbon project said our global carbon output from burning fossil fuels increased 2.9 percent from 2006 to 2007 — at the very high end of scenarios that the International Panel on Climate Change had predicted. That translates to a possible rise in global temperature of 11 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. And yes, you can mostly blame developing nations for the increase, scientists told the Washington Post:
The new statistics also underscore the growing contribution to the world's "carbon budget" from rapidly industrializing countries such as China, India and Brazil. Developing nations have roughly doubled their carbon output in less than two decades and now account for slightly more than half of total emissions, according to the new figures, up from about a third in 1990. By contrast, total carbon emissions from industrialized nations are only slightly higher than in 1990.
But the article also points out that the federal government still predicts U.S. carbon output will increase, not decrease, in the years to come. Worse yet, we may already have screwed the pooch — even if we stop generating any greenhouse gases tomorrow, we're still looking at a 4.3 degree (Fahrenheit) temperature rise this century. That's partly due to the fact that air-quality measures have reduced our output of aerosols, which actually cool the atmosphere slightly. Scientists say an increase of anywhere from 3.2 to 9.7 degrees would trigger changes that include major melting of some of the world's greatest ice sheets. Just in case you were too wrapped up in obsessing about the horrendous state of the economy and the failed bailout bill, here's something to get your mind off them. Image by NORBERTO DUARTE/AFP/Getty Images. [Washington Post]