Found this bit, under the headline Carbon Dioxide Levels Rising Despite Economic Downturn:
A leading scientist said on Thursday that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are hitting new highs, providing no indication that the world economic downturn is curbing industrial emissions, Reuters reported.
Joe Romm does a good job explaining why conflating emissions with concentrations is a mistake. I’ll just add the visual:
And the data to go with it:
It would indeed take quite a downturn to bring the blue (emissions) below the red (uptake), which is what would have to happen to see a dip in the CO2 atmospheric content (green). In fact, the problem is tougher than it looks, because a fall in emissions would be accompanied by a fall in net uptake, due to the behavior of short-term sinks. Notice that atmospheric CO2 kept going up after the 1929 crash. (Interestingly, it levels off from about 1940-1945, but it’s hard to attribute that because it appears to be within natural variability).
At the moment, it’s kind of odd to look for the downturn in the atmosphere when you can observe fossil fuel consumption directly. The official stats do involve some lag, but less than waiting for natural variability to shake out of sparse atmospheric measurements. Things might change soon, though, with the advent of satellite measurements.