Burning Fossil Fuels

According to the Australia Academy of Sciences:

There has been a recent acceleration in the growth rate of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industrial sources. From 2000 to 2007 these emissions grew by 3.5% per year, exceeding almost all assumed scenarios generated in the late 1990s.

This pulse of CO2 emissions growth coincided with a period of rapid global economic growth. There will be a small, temporary downturn in CO2 growth, associated with the 2008-09 global financial crisis.

It is very likely that most of the recent observed global warming is caused by increasing greenhouse gas levels. It was predicted more than a century ago that increases in CO2 would act like added trapping more heat near the surface. This extra CO2 was also predicted to make the stratosphere colder.

Satellite measurements over recent decades have confirmed the extra insulating effect not only of CO2, but also of each additional greenhouse gas. Moreover, trends over the last 40 years, superimposed on natural year-to-year variations, have been observed which show that the upper atmosphere has cooled and the surface of the Earth and the lower atmosphere have warmed significantly.

These are the predicted consequences of the additional levels of greenhouse gases.

 Academy of sciences fossil fuel chart

 Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions could significantly reduce long-term warming

To have a better than even chance of preventing the global average temperature from eventually rising more than 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures, the world would need to be emitting less than half the amount of CO2 by 2050 than it did in 2000. To do this on a smooth pathway, global emissions (which are still rising) would need to peak within the next 10 years and then decline rapidly.