Are there basic physical constraints on future anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide?

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Publication Type Journal Article
School or College College of Mines & Earth Sciences
Department Meteorology
Creator Garrett, Timothy J.
Title Are there basic physical constraints on future anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide?
Date 2009
Description Global Circulation Models (GCMs) provide projections for future climate warming using a wide variety of highly sophisticated anthropogenic CO2 emissions scenarios as input, each based on the evolution of four emissions "drivers": population p, standard of living g, energy productivity (or efficiency) f and energy carbonization c (IPCC WG III 2007). The range of scenarios considered is extremely broad, however, and this is a primary source of forecast uncertainty (Stott and Kettleborough, Nature 416:723-725, 2002). Here, it is shown both theoretically and observationally how the evolution of the human system can be considered from a surprisingly simple thermodynamic perspective in which it is unnecessary to explicitly model two of the emissions drivers: population and standard of living. Specifically, the human system grows through a self-perpetuating feedback loop in which the consumption rate of primary energy resources stays tied to the historical accumulation of global economic production-or p × g-through a time-independent factor of 9.7 ± 0.3 mW per inflation-adjusted 1990 US dollar. This important constraint, and the fact that f and c have historically varied rather slowly, points towards substantially narrowed visions of future emissions scenarios for implementation in GCMs.
Type Text
Publisher Springer
First Page 1
Last Page 19
Subject Global circulation models; Anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions
Subject LCSH Carbon cycle (Biogeochemistry); Carbon cycle (Biogeochemistry) -- Forecasting; Climatic changes -- Effect of human beings on
Language eng
Bibliographic Citation Garret, T. J. (2009). Are there basic physical constraints on future anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide? Climatic Change, 1-19.
Rights Management (c) Timothy J. Garrett The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com
Format Medium application/pdf
Format Extent 443,538 bytes
Identifier ir-main,9974
ARK ark:/87278/s69g65gr
Setname ir_uspace
Date Created 2012-06-13
Date Modified 2012-06-13
ID 707414
Reference URL https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s69g65gr
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