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Scientific research on the global carbon cycle has emerged as a high priority in biogeochemistry, climate studies, and global change policy. The emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil fuel combustion is a dominant driver of the current net carbon fluxes between the land, the oceans, and the atmosphere, and it is a key contributor to the rise in modern radiative forcing. Contrary to a commonly held perception, our quantitative knowledge about these emissions is insufficient to satisfy current scientific and policy needs. A more highly spatially and temporally resolved quantification of the social and economic drivers of fossil fuel combustion, and the resulting CO2 emissions, is essential to supporting scientific...