News of the WeekClimate Change

Possibly Vast Greenhouse Gas Sponge Ignites Controversy

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Science  16 Oct 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5388, pp. 386-387
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5388.386

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In what is shaping up as one of the most controversial findings yet to emerge in the greenhouse gas debate, a team of researchers on page 442 of this issue of Science presents evidence that North America sops up a whopping 1.7 petagrams of carbon a year--enough to suck up every ton of carbon discharged annually by fossil fuel burning in Canada and the United States. This could have ramifications on the climate change treaty signed in Kyoto, Japan, last December: The countries of North America could argue that their ability to soak up excess COshould offset their emissions. But critics are already attacking the study for everything from its methodology to its implications.