We are losing the fight against Nature, when are we going to give up?

For those who don’t know what is going on, is very simple, greenhouse gases allow shortwave radiation from the sun to pass through the atmosphere and warm the Earth’s surface. The energy that then radiates out from the surface, longwave radiation, is trapped by the same greenhouse gases, warming the air, oceans, and land. When coal, oil, and natural gas are burned, they release enormous amounts of greenhouse gases — especially carbon dioxide, or CO2, which is by far the most prevalent. The gases add up much faster in the atmosphere than natural processes can absorb them, and thereby wreak Earth’s climate system.

To date, warming and melting of the Arctic has occurred far faster than was projected, leading some scientists to conclude that the Arctic could be ice free in the summer as early as 2012. If the Greenland ice sheet were to melt completely, sea level would rise about 20 feet, leaving hundreds of millions of coastal residents — people, plants, animals — homeless. And severe weather events like hurricanes, droughts, and heat waves, already on the rise, will occur more frequently than ever. Countless other disastrous outcomes, many of which can’t be precisely modeled for predictive purposes, make climate change a looming threat.If things continue the way they are by 2050 this will amount to 35 percent of all plant and animal life currently in existence — at least a million species.

IS A FULL OUT WAR

Humans have added so much greenhouse gases that the greenhouse effect that first made life possible now threatens the world as we know it.

The “War Against Nature” is escalating at an exponential rate throughout the world and the bloating population of humans are now feeling the wrath of climate disruption and the consequences of razing its magnificent jungles. Today there are more severe and frequent floods displacing a half of a million people regularly, massive hillside slums, droughts, hurricanes, extinction of fauna and flora and unimaginable squalor with nil by way of sanitation for people.

 

Some Facts

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Who is causing the most damage to Nature?

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Nature fights back… Who is most likely to get hurt?

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We all lose!

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The bottom line…

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How to stop this war against nature?

Governments can take several steps to reduce the threat of global warming. First and foremost, the United States and other industrial nations must use less of the fossil fuels — especially coal, oil, and gasoline — that produce carbon dioxide, the most significant heat-trapping gas. Industrial countries are responsible for the largest share of worldwide emissions of heat-trapping gases. But these nations also have a great ability to switch to cutting-edge energy technologies that produce fewer of these emissions.

The nations of the world must negotiate a climate change treaty with legally binding limits on emissions of heat-trapping gases.

The United States can reduce its carbon-dioxide emissions through four principal strategies that make use of new energy technologies: improving energy efficiency, developing renewable energy resources such as solar and wind power, reducing gasoline consumption for transportation, and switching from coal and oil to natural gas.

Improve Energy Efficiency

The less energy we use, the less carbon dioxide we will produce. Over the past 20 years, American industry and consumers have begun to switch to more-efficient motors, vehicles, appliances, windows, and manufacturing processes. This switch has saved considerable energy and money, but much greater efficiency is possible.

Develop Renewable Energy

Clean, safe, renewable sources, such as solar, wind, and sustainably grown biomass (plant matter), can provide us with energy but do not contribute to global warming. These technologies are ready to be deployed much more widely, but government policies must encourage their use.

Reduce Gasoline Consumption for Transportation

Cars, trucks, and buses consume over half of the oil used in the United States. Highly efficient gasoline-powered cars, and alternatively fueled vehicles such as electric and fuel-cell cars and buses, can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by using less or no gasoline. In addition, policies can encourage consumers to drive less and to use alternatives to single-passenger automobile trips, such as carpools, bicycles, and public transportation.

Switch from Coal and Oil to Natural Gas

Although natural gas is a fossil fuel, it produces less carbon dioxide than either coal or oil. Changing from coal to natural gas for generating electricity and from oil to natural gas for home heating is thus desirable as a quick fix, even though these switches alone cannot reduce carbon dioxide emissions nearly as much as is necessary.

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Additional Government Steps

Reducing American use of coal, oil, and gasoline would start to address the global warming threat, but other steps, such as transferring technology to developing countries, preserving forests, decreasing atmospheric methane, continuing to phase out CFCs, and slowing down population growth, are also important. They can also provide benefits in addition to reducing global warming. Forest preservation, for example, would protect endangered species, while slower population growth would make it easier to supply adequate food for all the world’s people.

Transfer Technology to Developing Countries

American businesses, the government, and international organizations need to find ways to transfer advanced energy technologies to developing countries, so that those nations can build their economies without having to use the older, polluting fossil fuel technologies that the industrial countries are now trying to phase out.

Preserve and Plant Forests

Trees take in carbon dioxide and use it to grow. Deforestation, especially in the tropics where many of the largest, most important forests are located, contributes significantly to global warming. Efforts to preserve forests and to plant trees on deforested land are essential not only for preventing global warming but also for preserving biodiversity.

Decrease Methane in the Atmosphere

Although methane contributes much less to global warming than does carbon dioxide, it is still responsible for about 15 percent of the problem. Among other steps to decrease methane emissions, the nations of the world can prevent leaks from natural gas pipelines, cut methane emissions from landfills, and reduce their use of beef for food.

Continue to Phase Out CFCs

Because chlorofluorocarbons are responsible for depleting the protective ozone layer, the nations of the world have agreed to stop using them. These chemicals also trap heat, so vigilance in enforcing the international agreements to phase out their use will help slow global warming as well.

What Businesses can do?

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Your turn to take action….

Climate change affects us all. Here are tips on how you can personally make a difference.

At Home – reduce, reuse, recycle!

  • Buy minimally packaged goods
  • Recycle paper, plastic, glass, and metal. Reuse, mend, and repurpose things to save money and divert waste from your local landfill
  • Plug air leaks in windows and doors to increase energy efficiency
  • Adjust your thermostat, lower in winter, higher in summer
  • Replace old appliances with energy efficient models and light bulbs
  • Save electricity by plugging appliances into a power strip and turning them off completely when not in use
  • Wash clothes in cold or warm water
  • Run dishwashers only when full and don’t use heat to dry dishes
  • Eat less meat, poultry, and fish
  • Plant Trees – Enter tree planting pledges online, then plant indigenous or locally appropriate trees where you live. View results of tree planting efforts globally.

At Work and On the Go

  • Print double-sided or not at all
  • Always use reusable cups, knives and forks.
  • Think before you travel. If a video conference call will suffice, spare the hassle and expense, and CO2 emissions.
  • Avoid traffic jams and decrease your personal carbon footprint by walking, bicycling, and using mass transit whenever possible. Consider carpooling with friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
  • Taking the stairs can sometimes be faster than waiting in long elevator lines. In addition to saving energy, taking the stairs gives you a mild workout which will help keep you healthy.
  • Have your business join the UN Global Compact and become part of the solution for two of today’s largest scale environmental issues – Climate Change and Water Sustainability.Here are some additional tips on how to kick the CO2 habit 

Know Your Carbon Footprint

Find out how much CO2 your lifestyle produces and the amount of resources it takes to live the way you do. Once you know the impact your lifestyle causes you can start to make adjustments and monitor improvement. Encourage others to do the same. Calculate CO2 emissions resulting from your air travel.

Learn More — Knowledge is power.

Speak up!
You can raise your voice to combat climate change by asking your local and national authorities to engage in environmentally-friendly measures.

Visit one of these organizations for more information

The Visual World

Marcel Just is the director of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University, where he and his team use functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) scans to examine brain activation as people perform various high-level tasks such as spatial thinking, problem solving, multitasking, and real-time, dynamic decision making. In a conversation with Nieman Reports editor Melissa Ludtke, he describes how the human brain processes information.
Edited excerpts follow:
Ludtke: As journalism moved onto television, news began to be conveyed in visual ways and this often led to what is referred to as a “if it bleeds, it leads” style of reporting. 
Just: Processing print isn’t something the human brain was built for. The printed word is a human artifact. It’s very convenient and it’s worked very well for us for 5,000 years, but it’s an invention of human beings. By contrast Mother Nature has built into our brain our ability to see the visual world and interpret it. Even the spoken language is much more a given biologically than reading written language.

Ludtke: Does this mean that as we move out of the era of print and paper and into the digital era with more visual media, it’s going to be a more natural environment for humans to take in information than when it was the printed word?

Just: Yes, and it can be informative in a visual way. Now you can circumvent written language to a large extent. A lot of printed words are there to describe things that occur spatially. In many cases a picture is worth a thousand words. Now we can generate these pictures and graphics and we can convey them to other people very easily. I think it’s inevitable that visual media are going to become more important in conveying ideas and not just about raging fires.

Ludtke: Ideas?

Just: Ideas of physics and biology and politics and so on. Now I think there’s a role for the printed word. I don’t think it’s going to go away.

Ludtke: With children gaining a facility with digital media that many in their parents’ generation don’t have, would you expect that years from now brain imaging is going to show the brain functioning in different ways because of this orientation?

Just: Yes, I think that’s very plausible. Nobody has done that yet. But let me give you an analogy done without imaging. In the 1970’s there was a psychologist who studied people who were illiterate in Portugal. He found a group of people who had never learned how to use written language. He compared them to a control group who could read. He found that they processed things differently just as a function of having learned to read. I think that’s a counterpart to your question.

Excert of a “Conversation with Marcel Just” :http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/reports/article/102399/Watching-the-Human-Brain-Process-Information.aspx

Unique style Illustrations by Stavros Damos

Stavros Damos is a professional illustrator from Greece who draws and paints mostly for magazines, newspapers and a variety of publishing companies. With his unique illustrative style, Stavros constructs his artworks as if they were sculptures with angular shapes and fabric like shading. Check out this fabulous project below where he has illustrated one of my favorite bands; The Rolling Stones.

To see more work by Stavros Damos – be sure to check out his portfolio

UI/UX Design Best practices

The fact is that great user interfaces are the ones that are made to stay out of the way, and ‘Staying out of the way’ means not distracting your users. Rather, good UIs let your users do things. The result? A reduction in training and support costs, and happier, better satisfied and more engaged users.

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As with any branding effort, there are some best practices for creating an user interface that brings best results.

1. Know your user
“Obsess over customers: when given the choice between obsessing over competitors or customers, always obsess over customers. Start with customers and work backward.” – Jeff Bezos

Your user’s goals are your goals, so learn them. Restate them, repeat them. Then, learn about your user’s skills and experience, and what they need. Find out what interfaces they like and sit down and watch how they use them. Do not get carried away trying to keep up with the competition by mimicking trendy design styles or adding new features. By focusing on your user first, you will be able to create an interface that lets them achieve their goals.

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2. Pay attention to patterns
Users spend the majority of their time on interfaces other than your own (Facebook, MySpace, Blogger, Bank of America, school/university, news websites, etc). There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Those interfaces may solve some of the same problems that users perceive within the one you are creating. By using familiar UI patterns, you will help your users feel at home.

3. Stay consistent
“The more users’ expectations prove right, the more they will feel in control of the system and the more they will like it.” – Jakob Nielson

Your users need consistency. They need to know that once they learn to do something, they will be able to do it again. Language, layout, and design are just a few interface elements that need consistency. A consistent interface enables your users to have a better understanding of how things will work, increasing their efficiency.

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4. Use visual hierarchy
“Designers can create normalcy out of chaos; they can clearly communicate ideas through the organizing and manipulating of words and pictures.” – Jeffery Veen, The Art and Science of Web Design

Design your interface in a way that allows the user to focus on what is most important. The size, color, and placement of each element work together, creating a clear path to understanding your interface. A clear hierarchy will go great lengths in reducing the appearance of complexity (even when the actions themselves are complex).

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5. Provide feedback
Your interface should at all times speak to your user, when his/her actions are both right and wrong or misunderstood. Always inform your users of actions, changes in state and errors, or exceptions that occur. Visual cues or simple messaging can show the user whether his or her actions have led to the expected result.

Screenshot of BantamLive’s interface showing that it provides feedback with a loading action
BantamLive provides inline loading indicators for most actions within their interface.

6. BE FORGIVING

No matter how clear your design is, people will make mistakes. Your UI should allow for and tolerate user error. Design ways for users to undo actions, and be forgiving with varied inputs (no one likes to start over because he/she put in the wrong birth date format). Also, if the user does cause an error, use your messaging as a teachable situation by showing what action was wrong, and ensure that she/he knows how to prevent the error from occurring again.

A great example can be seen in How to increase signups with easier captchas.

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7. Empower your user
Once a user has become experienced with your interface, reward him/her and take off the training wheels. The breakdown of complex tasks into simple steps will become cumbersome and distracting. Providing more abstract ways, like keyboard shortcuts, to accomplish tasks will allow your design to get out of the way.

8. Speak their language
“If you think every pixel, every icon, every typeface matters, then you also need to believe every letter matters. ” – Getting Real

All interfaces require some level of copywriting. Keep things conversational, not sensational. Provide clear and concise labels for actions and keep your messaging simple. Your users will appreciate it, because they won’t hear you – they will hear themselves and/or their peers.

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9. Keep it simple
“A modern paradox is that it’s simpler to create complex interfaces because it’s so complex to simplify them.” – Pär Almqvist

The best interface designs are invisible. They do not contain UI-bling or unnecessary elements. Instead, the necessary elements are succinct and make sense. Whenever you are thinking about adding a new feature or element to your interface, ask the question, “Does the user really need this?” or “Why does the user want this very clever animated gif?” Are you adding things because you like or want them? Never let your UI ego steal the show.

10. Keep moving forward
Grandpa Bud: If I gave up every time I failed, I would never have invented my fireproof pants!
[Pants burn up, revealing his underwear]
Grandpa Bud: Still working the kinks out a bit.

from Meet the Robinsons

Meet the Robinsons is one of my all time favorite movies. Throughout the movie Lewis, the protagonist, is challenged to “keep moving forward.” This is a key principle in UI design.It is often said when developing interfaces that you need to fail fast, and iterate often. When creating a UI, you will make mistakes. Just keep moving forward, and remember to keep your UI out of the way.

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Buckle up, It’s going to be a bumpy ride…


The United States Environmental Protection Agency says that Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities. In 2012, CO2 accounted for about 82% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. Carbon dioxide is naturally present in the atmosphere as part of the Earth’s carbon cycle (the natural circulation of carbon among the atmosphere, oceans, soil, plants, and animals). Human activities are altering the carbon cycle—both by adding more CO2 to the atmosphere and by influencing the ability of natural sinks, like forests, to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. While CO2 emissions come from a variety of natural sources, human-related emissions are responsible for the increase that has occurred in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution. [1]

U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions, By Source

Pie chart that shows emissions by use. 38 percent is electricity, 33 percent is transportation, 14 percent is industry, 9 percent is residential and commercial, and 6 percent is other (non-fossil fuel combustion).

Note: All emission estimates from the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2012.

The main human activity that emits CO2 is the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil) for energy and transportation, although certain industrial processes and land-use changes also emit CO2. The main sources of CO2emissions in the United States are described below.

  • Electricity. Electricity is a significant source of energy in the United States and is used to power homes, business, and industry. The combustion of fossil fuels to generate electricity is the largest single source of CO2 emissions in the nation, accounting for about 38% of total U.S. CO2emissions and 31% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2012. The type of fossil fuel used to generate electricity will emit different amounts of CO2. To produce a given amount of electricity, burning coal will produce more CO2than oil or natural gas.
  • Transportation. The combustion of fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel to transport people and goods is the second largest source of CO2 emissions, accounting for about 32% of total U.S. CO2 emissions and 27% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2012. This category includes transportation sources such as highway vehicles, air travel, marine transportation, and rail.
  • Industry. Many industrial processes emit CO2 through fossil fuel combustion. Several processes also produce CO2 emissions through chemical reactions that do not involve combustion, for example, the production and consumption of mineral products such as cement, the production of metals such as iron and steel, and the production of chemicals. Fossil fuel combustion from various industrial processes accounted for about 14% of total U.S. CO2 emissions and 12% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2012. Note that many industrial processes also use electricity and therefore indirectly cause the emissions from the electricity production.

Carbon dioxide is constantly being exchanged among the atmosphere, ocean, and land surface as it is both produced and absorbed by many microorganisms, plants, and animals. However, emissions and removal of CO2 by these natural processes tend to balance. Since the Industrial Revolution began around 1750, human activities have contributed substantially to climate change by adding CO2 and other heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere.

In the United States, since 1990, the management of forests and non-agricultural land has acted as a net sink of CO2, which means that more CO2 is removed from the atmosphere, and stored in plants and trees, than is emitted. This sink offset about 15% of total emissions in 2012 and is discussed in more detail in the Land Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry section.

To find out more about the role of CO2 warming the atmosphere and its sources, visit the Causes of Climate Changepage and the Greenhouse Gas Indicators page in the Science section.

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Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the United States increased by about 5% between 1990 and 2012. Since the combustion of fossil fuel is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, changes in emissions from fossil fuel combustion have historically been the dominant factor affecting total U.S. emission trends. Changes in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion are influenced by many long-term and short-term factors, including population growth, economic growth, changing energy prices, new technologies, changing behavior, and seasonal temperatures. Between 1990 and 2012, the increase in CO2 emissions corresponded with increased energy use by an expanding economy and population, and an overall growth in emissions from electricity generation. Transportation emissions also contributed to the 5% increase, largely due to an increase in miles traveled by motor vehicles.

U.S. Carbon Dioxide Gas Emissions, 1990-2012

Line graph that shows the U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from 1990 to 2012. In 1990 carbon dioxide emissions started around 5,000 million metric tons. The emissions rose to about 6,000 million metric tons in 2000 where it remained until about 2008 when it began to decline. By 2009, the carbon dioxide emissions were at about 5,500 million metric tons, followed by a slight recovering in 2010 to about 5,700 million metric tons and a decrease in 2012 to about 5,400 million metric tons.

Note: All emission estimates from the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2012.

 

Going forward, CO2 emissions in the United States are projected to grow by about 1.5% between 2005 and 2020. [2]

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Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions

The most effective way to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is to reduce fossil fuel consumption. Many strategies for reducing CO2 emissions from energy are cross-cutting and apply to homes, businesses, industry, and transportation.

Examples of Reduction Opportunities for Carbon Dioxide
Strategy Examples of How Emissions Can be Reduced
Energy Efficiency Improving the insulation of buildings, traveling in more fuel-efficient vehicles, and using more efficient electrical appliances are all ways to reduce energy consumption, and thus CO2 emissions.

Energy Conservation Reducing personal energy use by turning off lights and electronics when not in use reduces electricity demand. Reducing distance traveled in vehicles reduces petroleum consumption. Both are ways to reduce energy CO2 emissions through conservation.Learn more about What You Can Do at Home, at School, in the Office, and on the Road to save energy and reduce your carbon footprint.
Fuel Switching Producing more energy from renewable sources and using fuels with lower carbon contents are ways to reduce carbon emissions.
Carbon Capture and Sequestration Carbon dioxide capture and sequestration is a set of technologies that can potentially greatly reduce CO2 emissions from new and existing coal- and gas-fired power plants, industrial processes, and other stationary sources of CO2. Learn more.

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*Carbon dioxide’s lifetime is poorly defined because the gas is not destroyed over time, but instead moves among different parts of the ocean–atmosphere–land system. Some of the excess carbon dioxide will be absorbed quickly (for example, by the ocean surface), but some will remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years, due in part to the very slow process by which carbon is transferred to ocean sediments.

The world would warm by 4°C by the end of this century if we do not take concerted action now. The World Bank report “Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience is a result of contributions from a wide range of experts from across the globe. The report follows “Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided”, released in November 2012. This new report outlines an alarming scenario for the days and years ahead—what we could face in our lifetime.

The scientists tell us that if the world warms by 2°C—warming which may be reached in 20 to 30 years—that will cause widespread food shortages, unprecedented heat-waves, and more intense cyclones. In the near-term, climate change, which is already unfolding, could batter the slums even more and greatly harm the lives and the hopes of individuals and families who have had little hand in raising the Earth’s temperature. Today, our world is 0.8°C above pre-industrial levels of the 18th century.

We could see a 2°C world in the space of one generation. The first Turn Down the Heat report was a wake-up call. This second scientific analysis gives us a more detailed look at how the negative impacts of climate change already in motion could create devastating conditions especially for those least able to adapt. The poorest could increasingly be hit the hardest. For this report, we turned again to the scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics. This time, we asked them to take a closer look at the tropics and prepare a climate forecast based on the best available evidence and supplemented with advanced computer simulations. With a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia and South Asia, the report examines in greater detail the likely impacts for affected populations of present day, 2°C and 4°C warming on critical areas like agricultural production, water resources, coastal ecosystems and cities.

The result is a dramatic picture of a world of climate and weather extremes causing devastation and human suffering. In many cases, multiple threats of increasing extreme heat waves, sea-level rise, more severe storms, droughts and floods will have severe negative implications for the poorest and most vulnerable. In Sub-Saharan Africa, significant crop yield reductions with 2°C warming are expected to have strong repercussions on food security, while rising temperatures could cause major loss of savanna grasslands threatening pastoral livelihoods.

In South Asia, projected changes to the monsoon system and rising peak temperatures put water and food resources at severe risk. Energy security is threatened, too. While, across South East Asia, rural livelihoods are faced with mounting pressures as sea-level rises, tropical cyclones increase in intensity and important marine ecosystem services are lost as warming approaches 4°C. Across all regions, the likely movement of impacted communities into urban areas could lead to ever higher numbers of people in informal settlements being exposed to heat waves, flooding, and diseases.

Here, we take a look at the world’s five biggest polluters, according to EDGAR http://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/overview.php?v=intro&sort=des9

1. China

This picture from January 2013 shows two men walking in Beijing’s dense smog.  (AFP/Getty Images)

China overtook the United States as the world’s biggest carbon dioxide polluter in 2006, and has topped the list ever since.

In 2012, the communist country pumped an estimated 9.8 billion tons of CO2 into the world’s atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal. And while emissions grew at a slower pace in 2012 than previous years, China still accounted for 70 percent of the global increase in CO2 emissions that year.

China’s smog levels are notorious. But air pollution is soaring to new heights due to the country’s rapid industrialization, reliance on coal power and increased car ownership for a booming population.

It doesn’t help that environmental laws are often ignored, according to green activists.

2. United States

Morning commuters travel the 210 freeway near Pasadena, Calif.  (David McNew/AFP/Getty Images)

As stated above, America’s carbon dioxide emissions had been going down for years. The decline can be partly attributed to the economic recession, improved energy efficiency, and the shale-gas boom.

Emissions reached a 20-year low of just under 5.2 billion metric tons in 2012.

But new figures show CO2 emissions actually increased 2 percent in 2013 as more utilities turned to coal for energy after a steep rise in natural gas prices.

Emissions are still 10 percent below 2005 levels, but they were once down 12 percent. The Obama administration set a goal of being 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

Suddenly, that goal looks like a steeper climb.

3. India

Indian commuters walk up a foot bridge in New Delhi on Jan. 31, 2013.  (Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images)

India’s carbon dioxide emissions shot up 7.7 percent in 2012, with those from coal growing at an even faster pace of 10.2 percent.

That despite the South Asian country recording its lowest GDP growth — 4 percent — in a decade.

One in three Indians currently live in “critically-polluted” areas. And of the 180 cities monitored by India’s Central Pollution Control Board, just two — Malapuram and Pathanamthitta in Kerala — have what are considered “low” levels of air pollution.

4. Russia

A Russian woman wears a face mask to protect herself from smoke in Moscow.  (Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia’s carbon dioxide emissions plunged after the collapse of Soviet-era smokestack industries, but it remains the world’s fourth largest CO2 polluter at 1.7 billion metric tons in 2012.

Hundreds of cities currently exceed pollution limits, with Moscow, St. Petersburg and the far-northern Siberian city of Norilsk among the worst offenders.

Two cities — Norilsk and the central Russian city of Dzerzhinsk — made the environmental group Blacksmith Institute’s list of the world’s most polluted places this year.

5. Japan

The suffocating smog that blanketed swathes of China hit parts of Japan in March 2013.  (Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images)

Japan recently watered down its target to cut carbon dioxide emissions despite the 1.3 million metric tons of CO2 it produced in 2012.

The new target, announced in November, reverses course from a goal set four years ago and now allows a 3.1 percent increase in emissions from 1990 levels rather than seeking a 25 percent cut.

It reflects the country’s increased reliance on fossil fuels in the aftermath of the Fukushimanuclear disaster in 2011.

 

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