by jason brown
News raced around the globe today: pollution levels have jumped higher and longer than ever before.
Headlines prompted yet another volley among scientists of yes-it-is, no-it's-not debate over latest alarming figures about planetary warming.
"Feedback" is the latest catchphrase being used to explain a sudden jump in carbon dioxide figures in 2002 and 2003, outside of weather patterns like El Nino usually held responsible. Human society currently pumps 6.7 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, with only 42 per cent being absorbed by plants and oceans, reports the Independent.
The respected London newspaper says that as well as no El Nino to blame the jump on, there is no recorded increase in CO2 emissions either, prompting fears earth's natural recycling ability is beginning to show signs of being overwhelmed.
El Nino only appeared again this year, in the last month or so, setting off an earlier round of headlines. Most predicting a "weak" return, making it an even less likely culprit.
News organisations reported extensively on the new figures, revealing deep unease by rewriting headlines that normally stay unchanged from agency sources like Reuters.
However, within 24 hours of the figures being released, some scientists described the figures as a possible "anomoly" - an unexplainable and temporary increase - rather than the start of a new trend.
Trend or not, no one argues that there have been ice ages previously, that such ages have onset relatively quickly - half a century or less rather than thousands of years - and that plummeting temperatures were immediately preceded by a rapid increases of 10 degees celsius over a similar timeframe.
Russia recently ratified the Kyoto Protocols, triggering off the 55 % threshold of CO2 producing nations. Countries like United States and Australia have been noticeable holdouts from the Kyoto Protocols, designed to restrict CO2 emissions but delayed by their refusal to sign. They said Kyoto would be too economically costly to implement and used scientific arguments against global warming claims.
Feedback figures also follow recently heightened awareness about global warming following The Day After Tomorrow, a movie based in part on equally alarming reports like that of the Pentagon warning the White House that global warming presented a far greater threat than terrorism.
By the time enough background data emerges to prove either side 100% each correct, of course, tomorrow may have become the day before yesterday.