The 50th Anniversary of the Global Carbon Dioxide Record

Who can say no to a trip to Hawaii - especially when it is to celebrate one of my favorite scientific records? That's right - the global carbon dioxide record, aka the "Keeling Curve" turned 50 this year. At the end of November, I traveled to Kona, HI for a special celebration of this record. Presentations during the three-day symposium included talks by Susan Solomon, Ralph Keeling, Robert Socolow, Julio Friedman, and many others (most conveniently archived at the conference website). The conference was excellent, bringing together scientists, industry folks, Congressional staffers, and many others to discuss the importance of the record as well as where to go from here with emissions controls, carbon capture, and other options for mitigation and adaptation.

After the talks were over, many of the participants stayed on an extra day to visit NOAA's Mauna Loa Observatory, where Dave Keeling started keeping track of the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere 50 years ago. Despite a slight headache brought on by traveling from sea level to 11,000+ ft in the space of just a few hours, it was very exciting to see the observatory - and to get out of Kona and see some of the rest of the Big Island!


trojjer said...

I hope that, if you flew on an aeroplane to Hawaii, you "offset your emissions" or something ;)

Or do you think that's a red herring? Then again, carbon capture might be too grand an idea, as well... It sounds like a bit of a cop out to me. And I read somewhere about "giant artificial trees" performing inorganic photosynthesis...

Emily Therese said...

Hi Trojjer,
Emissions offsets can be tough - some of the companies are rigorous in their accounting schemes, while others aren't as good about protecting against double counting and independent verification. Check out this guide for more information: A Consumer's Guide to Retail Carbon Offset Providers. I'm still not certain how this will all turn out in the long run - if the offsets will mean anything - but I hope they do.