This is not good news. Despite the economic slowdown, greenhouse gas emissions have grown at a higher rate than anticipated. Carbon dioxide output actually grew by 3% when it was expected to fall.
Our natural carbon sinks on the planet – the oceans and the forests – appear to be slowing in their capacity to capture carbon dioxide.
There are a lot of potential tipping points and potential feedback loops we are facing that could accelerate global warming. One of these is pretty well understood, it is the release of methane, a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, as the planet warms. The methane release would be expected from tundra and from the Arctic ocean beds. These are not knife-edge changes where the impact could go one way or another, they are tipping points where change is expected to go in a certain direction.
Are there unforeseen controls on global warming? Changes in the environment that will counterbalance the changes brought on by the burning of fossil fuels? We should certainly hope so because the anticipated and predicted changes are not good for many species of life, including industrial bipeds.