Why a blue-chip physicist is trying to figure out what to do with all of the CO2 in the atmosphere
The world’s top climate scientist is warning that it’s not too late to reduce carbon emissions before the world is “at risk” of the worst climate consequences of global warming.
In an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Climate Desk on Tuesday, David Titley, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Washington, said it was time to stop pretending that CO2 is just another greenhouse gas, noting that the concentration of the greenhouse gas in the air is about 2.8 parts per million.
That’s the equivalent of about 1.3 parts per billion of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere, he said.
“It’s not like we’ve been hiding the fact that we have to start thinking about what to replace the carbon that we’ve lost,” he said, adding that we should be looking at ways to reduce our carbon footprint and make the most of our natural resources.
In a paper published in the journal Science on Monday, Titley and colleagues show that CO 2 emissions are the single largest contributor to global warming since the industrial revolution, but the impact of emissions from other sources is even more significant.
“We estimate that the total global emissions of CO 2 and other greenhouse gases since 1950 are more than 2,000 times greater than the emissions of the fossil fuel economy alone,” the authors write.
Titley said the new research provides new insight into how carbon pollution from fossil fuels and other sources affects the climate system.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he told Bloomberg Television.
Tito is the author of “The Greenhouse Effect: How Fossil Fuels and Carbon Dioxide Drive Global Warming.”
He has written extensively about climate change for Bloomberg View and The Atlantic.