By Dan Shapley
The rate of increase in global emissions of carbon dioxide, the most important greenhouse gas warming the climate, tripled in the first four years of the 21st century. Even as the Kyoto Protocol and other measures were put in place to try to reduce emission levels below 1990 levels, the rate of increase went up from 1.1 percent in the 1990s to 3 percent from 2000-2004. The increased rate of emissions may also help explain the unusual melting of snow and ice in Antarctica, which scientists said wasn't expected for decades. The emissions rate also calls into question the results of the recent U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, which used older data in predicting two things -- dire consequences from inaction, and affordable steps to mitigate the impact of warming. Scientists have often said that their predictions are conservative, and the latest data seems to agree -- as we learn more, we learn that the worst consequences of global warming are approaching faster, and the impetus to act now grows stronger, according to a story in the May 22 San Francisco Chronicle.