Last week in Lima, Peru was a reminder of how bad traffic is in a large capital city — one without any kind of efficient public transportation system.  It’s also chaotic.  Bogota in Colombia is another traffic-dense capital with no metro system to speak of (not counting their crazy bus system).

Medellin, where I am writing this, is bad, but not as bad as the others.  At least they have a metro system which runs every few minutes and is packed from morning to night.  The thing many of these cities have in common is that they are jammed with vehicles that belch out massive amounts of CO2.  There doesn’t seem to be rules.  The black clouds from vehicle pipes simply floats up, dissipates, and is absorbed by our atmosphere — out of site out of mind.

We hear quite a lot about global warming and greenhouse gasses.  One side predicts we are dooming the planet.  The other side thinks the planet can take whatever abuse we dish out.

The earth has had ice on the poles for thousands of years.  Hundreds of thousands.  We do this thing called ice coring.  It’s a way to read the temperature and CO2 history of the earth as far back as 800,000 years.  The DNA of the micro air-bubbles trapped in the ice tells an accurate climate tale for each of those years.  For 800,000 years, temperature and CO2 has fluctuated up and down together.    During that time, CO2 has never been more than 280 ppm (parts per million).  That is until recently.

From the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (the year 1750) until 1950, the level of CO2 in the air has risen 50 ppm to about 340 ppm.  From 1953 to 2006, the level rose another 50 ppm to 390 ppm.  Just this year, we’ve seen measurements of 400 ppm, more than 40% higher than the world has seen for 800,000 years.  And if temperature fluctuates up with CO2 levels,……

You don’t need to be a meteorologist, a climatologist, or a rocket scientist to understand that a dramatic increase in CO2 levels means the earth is warming — 800,000 years of data doesn’t lie.

Multiple the hugely inefficient transport systems of cities around the globe and it’s no wonder CO2 levels have spiked and are going higher.  It’s a worldwide conundrum.  We need urgently to make (a lot) less CO2.

We’ve all got to do our part — heavy energy conservation.

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