您现在的位置: 纽约时报中英文网 >> 纽约时报中英文版 >> 科学 >> 正文

碳排放趋于稳定,大气碳含量却为何剧增?

更新时间:2017-6-27 18:39:18 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Carbon in Atmosphere Is Rising, Even as Emissions Stabilize
碳排放趋于稳定,大气碳含量却为何剧增?

CAPE GRIM, Tasmania — On the best days, the wind howling across this rugged promontory has not touched land for thousands of miles, and the arriving air seems as if it should be the cleanest in the world.

塔斯马尼亚格津角——大多数时候,在这个崎岖海角呼啸的风远离大陆走了数千英里,到达这里的空气似乎应该是世界上最干净的。

But on a cliff above the sea, inside a low-slung government building, a bank of sophisticated machines sniffs that air day and night, revealing telltale indicators of the way human activity is altering the planet on a major scale.

但是,在海边悬崖上一座低矮的政府建筑里,一批精密的机器昼夜嗅闻着空气,提供人类活动如何大规模改变地球的警示性指标。

For more than two years, the monitoring station here, along with its counterparts across the world, has been flashing a warning: The excess carbon dioxide scorching the planet rose at the highest rate on record in 2015 and 2016. A slightly slower but still unusual rate of increase has continued into 2017.

两年多来,这里与世界各地的监测站都发出了警告:地球上二氧化碳排放的增速在2015年和2016年刷新了历史最高纪录。进入2017年之后,速度稍有减缓,但仍然高得不同寻常。

Scientists are concerned about the cause of the rapid rises because, in one of the most hopeful signs since the global climate crisis became widely understood in the 1980s, the amount of carbon dioxide that people are pumping into the air seems to have stabilized in recent years, at least judging from the data that countries compile on their own emissions.

科学家们对这种快速上升的原因感到担心,因为自从1980年代全球气候危机获得广泛了解以来,最让人充满希望的一个迹象就是:近年来,人们排入空气中的二氧化碳量已经趋于稳定,至少各国自行汇编的排放量数据是这样显示的。

That raises a conundrum: If the amount of the gas that people are putting out has stopped rising, how can the amount that stays in the air be going up faster than ever? Does it mean the natural sponges that have been absorbing carbon dioxide are now changing?

这提出了一个难题:如果人们排出的二氧化碳量已经没有在增加,那么空气中的二氧化碳量为何比以往任何时候都增加得都更快呢?这是否意味着二氧化碳的天然吸收物正在发生变化?

“To me, it’s a warning,” said Josep G. Canadell, an Australian climate scientist who runs the Global Carbon Project, a collaboration among several countries to monitor emissions trends.

“对我而言,这是一个警报。”澳大利亚气候科学家何塞普·G·卡纳德利(Josep G. Canadell)说。他是全球碳项目(Global Carbon Project)的负责人,几个国家通过该项目合作监测排放趋势。

Scientists have spent decades measuring what was happening to all of the carbon dioxide that was produced when people burned coal, oil and natural gas. They established that less than half of the gas was remaining in the atmosphere and warming the planet. The rest was being absorbed by the ocean and the land surface, in roughly equal amounts.

科学家花了几十年时间来测量人们烧煤、石油和天然气产生的全部二氧化碳会发生什么事情。他们认为,不到一半的二氧化碳仍然留在大气中,导致地球变暖。其余的则被海洋和地表吸收,吸收量大致相当。

In essence, these natural sponges were doing humanity a huge service by disposing of much of its gaseous waste. But as emissions have risen higher and higher, it has been unclear how much longer the natural sponges will be able to keep up.

实质上,这些天然海绵处理了大量的气体废物,帮了人类一个大忙。但随着排放量越来越大,天然海绵还能坚持多长时间尚不清楚。

Should they weaken, the result would be something akin to garbage workers going on strike, but on a grand scale: The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would rise faster, speeding global warming even beyond its present rate. It is already fast enough to destabilize the weather, cause the seas to rise and threaten the polar ice sheets.

如果它们的吸收能力减弱,效果就类似于垃圾工人罢工,只不过规模巨大:大气中的二氧化碳量将上升得更快,导致全球变暖加速,甚至比目前的速度还要快。现在就已经够快的了,它破坏了天气的稳定性,导致海平面上升,对极地冰盖形成了威胁。

The record increases of airborne carbon dioxide in 2015 and 2016 thus raise the question of whether this has now come to pass. Scientists are worried, but they are not ready to draw that conclusion, saying more time is needed to get a clear picture.

2015年和2016年大气中二氧化碳创历史新高引发的问题是,这个现象现在是否已经消退。科学家们觉得有可能,但是他们还没有做好得出如此结论的准备,表示还需要更多的时间来弄清楚。

Many of them suspect an El Niño climate pattern that spanned those two years, one of the strongest on record, may have caused the faster-than-usual rise in carbon dioxide, by drying out large parts of the tropics. The drying contributed to huge fires in Indonesia in late 2015 that sent a pulse of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Past El Niños have also produced rapid increases in the gas, though not as large as the recent ones.

由于这两年是有记录以来厄尔尼诺气候现象最强烈的时期之一,所以很多科学家怀疑是厄尔尼诺所致,它使得很多热带地区出现干旱,导致二氧化碳的增速超过平常。这种干旱在2015年底促成了印度尼西亚的大规模火灾,一下子将大量二氧化碳排放到大气中。厄尔尼诺过去也曾经导致二氧化碳迅速增加,尽管不如最近的情况这么剧烈。

Yet scientists are not entirely certain that the El Niño was the main culprit; the idea cannot explain why a high rate of increase in carbon dioxide has continued into 2017, even though the El Niño ended early last year.

然而,科学家们也不能完全确定厄尔尼诺就是罪魁祸首。因为它无法解释为什么二氧化碳的高增长率会持续到2017年,毕竟厄尔尼诺现象在去年年初就消停了。

Scientists say their inability to know for certain is a reflection not just of the scientific difficulty of the problem, but also of society’s failure to invest in an adequate monitoring system to keep up with the profound changes humans are wreaking on the planet.

科学家们说,他们之所以无法确定,不仅仅是因为在科学上有难度,也是因为社会没能投入兴建起一个合乎需要的监测系统,以跟上人类给地球带来的深刻变化。

“It’s really bare bones, our network, contrary to common misperceptions about the government wasting money,” said Pieter Tans, chief of a unit that monitors greenhouse gases at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

美国国家海洋与大气管理局(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,简称NOAA)温室气体监测部门的负责人皮耶特·坦斯(Pieter Tans)表示:“与人们对政府浪费资金的普遍误解相反,我们的监测网络真的很缺钱。”

While the recent events have made the scientific need for an improved network clear, the situation may be about to get worse, not better. President Donald Trump’s administration has targeted U.S. science agencies for cutbacks, with NOAA, the lead agency for tracking greenhouse gases, being one of those on the chopping block.

改善监测网络是科学上的需要,虽然最近的事件让这一点变得很清楚,但情况却可能会变得更糟,而不是趋好。特朗普政府把美国的科学机构当作了削减资金的目标,跟踪温室气体的带头机构NOAA就是其中之一。

Human activity is estimated to be pumping almost 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air every year, an amount that Canadell of the Global Carbon Project called “staggering.” The atmospheric concentration of the gas has risen by about 43 percent since the Industrial Revolution.

据估计,人类活动每年向空气中排放近400亿吨的二氧化碳,全球碳计划的卡纳德利说这个数字“很惊人”。自工业革命以来,大气中的二氧化碳浓度增加了约43%。

That, in turn, has warmed the Earth by around 2 degrees Fahrenheit, a large number for the surface of an entire planet.

而这反过来又导致地球温度上升了大约2华氏度,对于整个星球的表面来说,这是一个很大的数字。

The uncertainty stemming from the recent increases in carbon dioxide is all the more acute given that global emissions from human activity seem to have stabilized over the past three years. That is primarily because of changes in China, the largest polluter, where an economic slowdown has coincided with a conscious effort to cut emissions.

鉴于在过去三年中,全球人类活动产生的排放量似乎已经稳定下来,近期二氧化碳增长带来的不确定性就更加严重了。排放量变得稳定主要是因为全球最大的污染国中国的形势发生了变化,该国不仅经济增长有所放缓,而且减排意识也在提高。

“I’d estimate that we are about at the emissions peak, or if there are further rises, they won’t be much,” said Wang Yi, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, who also belongs to the national legislature and advises the government on climate policy.

北京中科院教授王毅说:“我估计我们差不多要达到排放的峰值了,就算还会有进一步增长,也不会增加多少。”王毅也是全国性的立法机关成员,在气候政策上为政府提供建议。

Emissions in the United States, the second-largest polluter after China, have also been relatively flat, but Trump has started tearing up President Barack Obama’s climate policies, raising the possibility that greenhouse gases could rise in coming years.

在仅次于中国的第二大污染国美国,二氧化碳排放量也相对平稳,但特朗普已经开始撤销奥巴马总统的气候政策,导致未来几年温室气体排放量上升的可能性增加。

Tans said that if global emissions flattened out at today’s high level, the world would still be in grave trouble.

坦斯说,如果全球排放量在当前的水平居高不下,世界也仍然会面临巨大麻烦。

“If emissions were to stay flat for the next two decades, which could be called an achievement in some sense, it’s terrible for the climate problem,” he said.

他说:“如果排放量在未来20年内保持平稳,这从某种意义上可以被称为是个成就,但对于气候问题来说却很可怕。”

“全文请访问纽约时报中文网,本文发表于纽约时报中文网(http://cn.nytimes.com),版权归纽约时报公司所有。任何单位及个人未经许可,不得擅自转载或翻译。订阅纽约时报中文网新闻电邮:http://nytcn.me/subscription/”

相关文章列表