| TROLL STATION, Antarctica
TROLL STATION, Antarctica Atmospheric levels of
the main greenhouse gas have set another new peak in a sign of
the industrial rise of Asian economies led by China, a senior
scientist said on Saturday.
"The levels already in January are higher than last year,"
said Kim Holmen, research director of the Norwegian Polar
Institute, during a visit to the Troll scientific research
station in Antarctica by Norway's Prime Minister Jens
Holmen said measurements at a Norwegian station high in the
Arctic showed levels of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse
gas, were around 394 parts per million, up about 1.5 parts per
million from the previous records early in 2008.
The levels have risen by about a third since the start of
the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, in tandem with
more use of fossil fuels in power plants and factories, and
defying recent international efforts to cut back.
The carbon levels usually peak just before the arrival of
spring in the northern hemisphere, where most of the world's
industries, land masses and plants are found. Levels then dip
because plants soak up carbon dioxide as they grow.
Holmen said that the 2008 levels might still rise
fractionally higher in coming weeks.
He said growing economies in Asia such as China and India
were a reason for the rise in emissions, in line with a linked
fall of industrial efficiency in the past two years or so --
more carbon is being emitted per dollar of economic output in a
reverse of a long improving trend.
"The affluent world wants to buy cheap stuff and we buy
it...from the inefficient old-fashioned technology that we have
got rid of," he said. He added that there were also signs the
oceans had become less efficient at soaking up carbon dioxide.
The U.N. Climate Panel, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace
Prize with former Vice President Al Gore, says that world
emissions of greenhouse gases will have to peak by 2015 to
avert the worst effects of global warming ranging from more
droughts and floods to rising sea levels.
It says that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are
higher than for the past 650,000 years and says that it is more
than 90 percent probable that humans are to blame for a related
Separately, Norwegian researchers said there were new signs
that polluting mercury was being blown to the Antarctic even
though the icy continent is far from most industrial centers.
Mercury has long been a pollutant in the Arctic.
"A preliminary analysis indicates a mercury level
approximately 40 percent lower than in the Arctic," Chris
Lunder of the Norwegian Institute for Air Research told
Stoltenberg during his trip.
"This is a rather high number considering the fact that
only a quarter of the emissions occur in the southern
hemisphere," he said.
China releases 28 percent of global emissions while South
Africa, the nearest nation to Troll, which is about 250 km
inland in Antarctica, accounts for 10 percent, he said.
"The latter might be a direct and major contributor to the
mercury pollution in Antarctica," he added.
(Editing by Ralph Boulton)