Atmospheric Simulations Modeling Improves

But can the cooling effects of human-generated aerosols be curbed?

By Seán Ottewell, Editor at Large

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“Winds and weather patterns mix carbon dioxide in the atmosphere just like stirring mixes cream in a cup of coffee. As soon as you start stirring, you lose some information about where and when the cream was originally added to the cup. With careful measurements and models, however, much of this information can be recovered. One of our big questions is how carbon sources and sinks evolve – this is all with an eye on prediction and management,” she says.

Even as models improve, however, there still might not be time to do anything about climate change. The world economic crisis has hit investment in clean energy. Its growth is no longer on track for the world to avert climate change’s worst impact, according to New Energy Finance (NEF), High Holborn, London, clean energy and carbon market analysts. 

Presenting its Global Futures 2009 insights to the second New Energy Finance Summit on March 4, NEF analysts say that although lower economic activity due to the financial crisis will reduce carbon dioxide emissions, in the longer term drying up of funding for lower-carbon energy solutions is likely to have far greater adverse impact on emissions.

Some experts fear that continued emissions growth beyond 2015, or 2020 at the latest, would create the strongest risks of severe and irreversible climate change. NEF analysis shows that a peak much before 2020 currently looks highly unlikely.

“This should be a real wake-up call,” said Michael Liebreich, NEF chairman and CEO. “New Energy Finance is generally on the optimistic side of the debate: even with the current recession we are more bullish on the shift to clean energy than most mainstream analysts. However, it is no longer possible to say we are on track to achieve peak carbon dioxide by 2020.”

Seán Ottewell is Chemical Processing's Editor at Large. You can e-mail him at

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