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In Historic Turn, CO2 Emissions Flatline In 2014, Even As Global Economy Grows 283

mdsolar sends this report from Forbes: A key stumbling block in the effort to combat global warming has been the intimate link between greenhouse gas emissions and economic growth. When times are good and industries are thriving, global energy use traditionally increases and energy-related carbon dioxide emissions also go up. Only when economies stumble and businesses shutter — as during the most recent financial crisis — does energy use typically decline, in turn bringing down planet-warming emissions.

But for the first time in nearly half a century, that synchrony between economic growth and energy-related emissions seems to have been broken, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency, prompting its chief economist to wonder if an important new pivot point has been reached — one that decouples economic vigor and carbon pollution. The IEA pegged carbon dioxide emissions for 2014 at 32.3 billion metric tons — essentially the same volume as 2013, even as the global economy grew at a rate of about 3 percent. Whether the disconnect is a mere fluke or a true harbinger of a paradigm shift is impossible to know. The IEA suggested that decreasing use of coal in China — and upticks in renewable electricity generation there using solar, wind and hydropower — could have contributed to the reversal.
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In Historic Turn, CO2 Emissions Flatline In 2014, Even As Global Economy Grows

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  • Meanwhile... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chris Katko ( 2923353 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @01:28PM (#49251603)
    ...A man has cancer, and and he's still getting sicker, but not sicker at a faster rate, so I'm sure he'll be just fine.
    • Re:Meanwhile... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Coren22 ( 1625475 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @01:30PM (#49251621) Journal

      If you thought it was easy to cure all the world's ills, wouldn't you expect it to of already happened?

      The world doesn't stop on a dime, it takes time to switch to low CO2 technologies.

      • Re:Meanwhile... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Smidge204 ( 605297 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @01:35PM (#49251667) Journal

        More importantly, this strains the argument that green technologies threaten economic growth. That means dirtier fossil energy is a lot harder to justify, and renewable energy more appealing.

        Could be the beginnings of a positive feedback loop. Here's hoping!
        =Smidge=

        • Not necessarily (Score:4, Insightful)

          by JBMcB ( 73720 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @01:57PM (#49251839)

          It could also be a result of increased biomass eating up more CO2. Someone needs to compare biomass via satellite mapping with the usage levels of natural gas, wood, coal and oil.

          • I doubt that was 'measured' by measuring actual CO2 output/levels.
            It is more likely simply calculated from the amount of burned coal and oil.
            On the other hand if you had an idea where that 'biomass' might grow, publish it and get a prize :)

            • Exactly right. As oco2 data continues pouring in, it proves that our measures are jokes. What lowered the co2 emissions is because china's economic bubble is bursting.
          • Re:Not necessarily (Score:4, Informative)

            by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @04:04PM (#49252609)

            As far as I can tell the story was about direct human emissions of CO2 and didn't take into account any CO2 absorbed by biomass. The calculation probably just involved the amount of fossil fuels used and cement production (and maybe a few other industrial sources of CO2).

        • Re:Meanwhile... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Daniel Hoffmann ( 2902427 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @02:16PM (#49251971)

          Our whole society is based around economic growth, but as population increase beings to flatline this whole system will collapse. Look what is happening in Japan, soon that will happen in Europe and the rest of the developed nations. Immigration will help somewhat but after some time even undeveloped nations will begin to see negative or very low population growth and with it so will the economy growth.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by itzly ( 3699663 )

            Immigration will help somewhat

            Only if the immigrants are willing to work hard. That's not true for quite a few of immigrants we see in Europe.

          • Japan has been stagnating a bit, but what's wrong with stagnation when you have an unemployment rate of 3.6 percent, a crime rate of practically zero and a populace that is generally well of? We really do have this obsession with growth, but I don't see anything wrong with stagnation once you have reached a certain level of wealth and comfort.

        • More likely, it's the steady replacement of coal by natural gas. If carbon is as real a problem as claimed, this in the long run will not be enough.

          • coal has a lot of other problems besides just CO2, so the switch to natural gas is an improvement in other environmental areas besides just CO2 emissions

          • That is actually pretty unlikely as mainly the USA invested into more natural gas plants and not Europe.

        • Re:Meanwhile... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @02:40PM (#49252165)

          More importantly, this strains the argument that green technologies threaten economic growth.

          No, what it does is require an answer to the question: what is the margin of error on the CO2 emission data? It's not a direct measurement, it has to be an estimate. If the error in the estimate is more than the 3% of the economic growth number, then this data proves nothing at all. The CO2 levels could have actually gone up 3% to match the economy.

          • Re:Meanwhile... (Score:4, Interesting)

            by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @03:07PM (#49252333)

            what is the margin of error on the CO2 emission data? It's not a direct measurement, it has to be an estimate.

            There is not a meter on every tailpipe, so we cannot directly measure emissions. But we can very accurately measure CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. CO2 from burning fuel can be distinguished from CO2 from biological processes because the isotope ratios are different. We can also measure fossil fuel extraction and storage, and from that calculate consumption.

            • But we can very accurately measure CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.

              This [google.com] study shows the best sensor tested had an accuracy of 30ppm plus 2% of the reading. That means if the reading is 500ppm, you can be reasonably sure that the actual value is between 460 and 540 ppm. That's a range of 80ppm, and an error of 8%.

              Second, while there is a correlation between atmospheric concentration and emission, it is not a 1:1 correlation. There are other processes involved.

              We can also measure fossil fuel extraction and storage, and from that calculate consumption.

              Nobody asked me how many trees I cut down to feed the fireplace this winter. You can get approximate numbers for

              • Show me the error bars. Best advice given by a high school science teacher.
              • by itzly ( 3699663 )

                This [google.com] study shows the best sensor tested had an accuracy of 30ppm plus 2% of the reading.

                Atmospheric CO2 measurements do not use simple commercial CO2 sensors like this. Here's a description of the process used in the Mauna Loa observatory.

                http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/c... [noaa.gov]

                Accuracy is typically better than 0.2 ppm.

                Nobody asked me how many trees I cut down to feed the fireplace this winter.

                Compared to massive production of coal, oil and gas, a few trees aren't going to make a noticeable difference.

                • Atmospheric CO2 measurements do not use simple commercial CO2 sensors like this. Here's a description of the process used in the Mauna Loa observatory.

                  One place on the planet, on the surface. Using a method that does not differentiate between CO2 and anything else that might absorb IR (except by using a cold trap to remove water.)

                  Yes, there are highly accurate ways to measure CO2. Unless you want to argue that ALL of the ways used to measure it are as accurate, then you need to accept that there is an error in measuring it. And again, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is not a direct measurement of emission, which is what the article talks abo

              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                The amount of trees a private household burns is irrelevant. They are CO2 neutral as they consume the exact same amount you release when they regrow.

            • by slew ( 2918 )

              what is the margin of error on the CO2 emission data? It's not a direct measurement, it has to be an estimate.

              There is not a meter on every tailpipe, so we cannot directly measure emissions. But we can very accurately measure CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. CO2 from burning fuel can be distinguished from CO2 from biological processes because the isotope ratios are different. We can also measure fossil fuel extraction and storage, and from that calculate consumption.

              Although you *might* measure things like this, I'm pretty sure the IEA methodology in this report is to estimate the so-called "end-use" energy consumption and compute the probable CO2 emissions by scaling factors in the proportion of the different CO2 profiles of the different energy production means (by proportion of those production means). The CO2 emission scaling factors are taken from the 1996 IPCC Guidelines so are averages across many regions and industries, not measured numbers that include effici

            • Why was that mosded flaimbait? Hopefully an error?

              Actually the CO2 emissions are 'estimated' on the amount of burned coal/gas/oil, which basically is taxed in every country one or the other way (or the CO2 emission itself is taxed or needs a certificate) ... so bottom line it is extremely accurate!

            • Actually the CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels is a pretty straightforward calculation. For instance if you burn a ton of coal (70% carbon so 1400 lbs of carbon) that produces 2.56 tons of CO2. The actual amount produced is a bit less than that because the coal isn't burned perfectly. So as long as we know how much fossil fuels have been consumed we can calculate the CO2 produced.

          • It's a good point, but then the CO2 emissions have consistently gone up for years, so even if there is a margin for error and they get close enough to be within the margin for error, then it's interesting.

            Of course, it could also be just total nonsense, and the result of some strange statistical blip. Another possibility, is that it's the measurement of economics which is wrong -- after this is "the first time out of a recession" not "the first time". When I look at economics, I still get pretty depressed,

        • More importantly, this strains the argument that green technologies threaten economic growth.

          It is also interesting what is driving the change. It is not big government programs, like carbon markets (which have been a corrupted failure) and subsidies, or international agreements (the biggest gains are in countries that were non-signatories to climate change agreements). Much bigger factors have been shale gas replacing coal, more efficient ICEs, and more efficient use of electricity (LED/CFL lights, variable speed motors, LCDs replacing CRTs).

          • It is also interesting what is driving the change. It is not big government programs, like carbon markets (which have been a corrupted failure) and subsidies, or international agreements (the biggest gains are in countries that were non-signatories to climate change agreements).

            Any documentation to back up these claims? Nobody expected miracles from the carbon markets, but as far as I can tell they did make a difference. Subsidies not having an impact seems highly unlikely, and even if your last claim is true it does not mean that the international agreements did not have an impact; directly and indirectly.

            Much bigger factors have been shale gas replacing coal, more efficient ICEs, and more efficient use of electricity (LED/CFL lights, variable speed motors, LCDs replacing CRTs).

            There have been pretty big carrots and sticks from governments all over the world to get to more efficient ICEs, so claiming government programs did not have an impact seems counterfactual to me. Similar for LED/CFL lights, and at least to some degree CRTs->LCDs (and I doubt this is a big splash in the pool). Variable-speed motors as a big reason for more efficiency seems, err, whimsical.

          • I just heard a story on NPR discussing this story. One of the authors said that one of the bigger factors is that coal use in China is down a bit and has been replaced by hydro, wind and solar.

      • If you thought it was easy to cure all the world's ills, wouldn't you expect it to of already happened?

        The world doesn't stop on a dime, it takes time to switch to low CO2 technologies.

        That's if you fix it at the consumption end.

        At the supply end it take a few good armies to stop everyone digging it out of the ground and burning it.

        • If you thought it was easy to cure all the world's ills, wouldn't you expect it to of already happened?

          The world doesn't stop on a dime, it takes time to switch to low CO2 technologies.

          That's if you fix it at the consumption end.

          At the supply end it take a few good armies to stop everyone digging it out of the ground and burning it.

          How do you propose to power the army to get there and back?

        • It only takes a few good armies to depopulate the world by 35%. The total related death toll of WWII seems around 4% and no one was really targeting the civilian population as a matter of intent.

          That would fix the problem too. I bring it up because if we are going to use armies to force our will onto others, the tactics used will largely bent to the will. There are a lot of enviromentalist who think the world is over populated and as long as armies are going to be used- well, just saying..

          • Actually it is wrong. Ever heared about the bombing of the UK by the germans or the bombing of Germany by the allied forces? Or the A-Bombs on Hiroshima and .nagasaki?

            Also 'reducing' the population won't help. It would cut down CO2 emissions but not set it to zero. The goal for the next decade needs to be to get emissions down and as close to zero as possible.

            No idea why people think, kilimg some people might help. The surviving people, especially if they survive a war, will likely produce more CO2 per capi

      • Re:Meanwhile... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by duck_rifted ( 3480715 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @02:30PM (#49252083)
        That depends upon whether curing the world's ills would too negatively impact those who hold the most power and wealth. I sincerely believe that when it really comes down to it, there are very powerful people who would rather see the world end than stop getting richer while it lasts.
    • Re:Meanwhile... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @02:21PM (#49252007) Homepage

      So what did you expect, to tell the world's poor that if they get rich they'll pollute more and the planet can't take it, so stay poor? For the rich to say let's lower our standard of living to a third world country because it's so environmentally friendly? Genocide? We're making progress towards becoming greener in a way that will actually be acceptable, as opposed to all the ways that aren't. If curbing pollution doesn't have to be about hamstringing economic development we might see a lot more willingness to make an effort while now it's mostly a shit-slinging fight about who should bear the biggest burdens.

    • Re:Meanwhile... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by microbox ( 704317 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @02:29PM (#49252067)
      Don't be so pessimistic -- we have the technological know-how to fix this problem, or at least, we are pretty close, and the right things are in the pipeline, to become mature when we need them. The article is alluding to this fact. The problem with AGW is political will, and bloody mindedness from the "truther" crowd.
  • by BillCable ( 1464383 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @01:31PM (#49251641)
    I guess we've done enough to ward off all those hurricanes and droughts and tornadoes and dogs and cats living together. No need for a carbon tax! Congrats, humanity!!
    • by Carewolf ( 581105 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @01:35PM (#49251665) Homepage

      Just in case you are not being sarcastic, or someone is not getting it: Even with constant emisions, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is still increasing, now it is just no longer also accelerating.

      • by itzly ( 3699663 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @01:46PM (#49251751)

        And even if CO2 stopped increasing, global temperature would continue to increase for several decades.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          That's the sad thing. Sadly politicians don't understand that. So the GOP wants to cut Social Security over some potential threat by Baby Boomers but Global Warming - which has far more dire consequences - they're willing to kick the can down the road. Nice.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by cogeek ( 2425448 )
            Wow, the level of ignorance here is astounding. When Barack and company had both the White House and both houses of Congress, just how much did they get accomplished on this? Or did they too "kick the can down the road?" Politicians are all alike, and if you don't comprehend that then just keep feeding on what they're shoveling to you. Maybe your determined consumption of political bull$h!t will cut down on some cow's carbon footprint.
            • by hondo77 ( 324058 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @02:43PM (#49252187) Homepage
              You do know what a filibuster is, right? [c2es.org]:

              Once the House passed the Waxman-Markey bill, the next step would have been for the Senate to have passed its own comprehensive climate and energy bill. Unfortunately, the Senate was unable to do so...S.1733 passed the committee by a vote of 11-1, with all seven Republican members boycotting the final vote...Citing a lack of bipartisan support in the Senate, however, Reid announced in July 2010 that upcoming energy legislation would not include a cap on GHG emissions. This effectively ended action on climate legislation for the 111th Congress.

              • So was there a filibuster (I honestly don't know)? I don't see a mention of it in the text that you posted.
            • by quantaman ( 517394 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @02:45PM (#49252203)

              Wow, the level of ignorance here is astounding. When Barack and company had both the White House and both houses of Congress, just how much did they get accomplished on this? Or did they too "kick the can down the road?" Politicians are all alike, and if you don't comprehend that then just keep feeding on what they're shoveling to you. Maybe your determined consumption of political bull$h!t will cut down on some cow's carbon footprint.

              Unfortunately US politics is a lot more complex than that. The Democrats as a whole probably did want to get something done, however the Republicans REALLY didn't want to do anything even on things they could agree with, for something like Global Warming they would have been able to make it extraordinarily costly to do something.

              The Democrats simply didn't have the popular support to enact a serious climate policy, especially after they spent all their political capital on health care reform and economic stimulus.

              • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @03:04PM (#49252313) Journal

                The Democrats simply didn't have the popular support to enact a serious climate policy,

                That's the real kicker. If the public support were there, they would get something done, and Republicans would go along (heck, as hypocritical as politicians are, they might lead the charge. Even Bush supported climate change legislation when it was convenient). If public support were there, then politicians who didn't pretend to go along would be voted out of office.

                Even dictators work to manipulate public opinion, because even they know their power ultimately relies on the people.

        • Can't we at least celebrate some progress? No, the job isn't done, not at all, but can't we be happy that we're at least moving a little in the right direction?

          I'm not saying there's no problem any more, of course there is, but why does everything have to be 100% gloom and doom and disaster and condemnation?

      • by wcrowe ( 94389 )

        "Just in case you are not being sarcastic, or someone is not getting it..."

        Yes, I'm sure he was totally serious about the dogs and cats living together.

    • Next time you achieve something at work your boss can stroll in and say: "Jimmy here just stopped our servers from crashing every hour and instead they crash every 3 hours now. Jimmy's work is done here. He can go home early for such great work!"

      Positive reinforcement is a much better motivator than to bash the progress no matter how little it appears to be. News like this makes me realize the small changes I made and that my company made actually helped.

  • by dmt0 ( 1295725 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @01:37PM (#49251681)
    economic statistics and economic reality?
    • "A key stumbling block in the effort to combat global warming has been the intimate link between greenhouse gas emissions and economic growth."

      Time to cue up the warning about correlation not being causation.

      Most particularly, in this case: when the economy gets better, people buy more stuff. There's a correlation between how many teddy bears people buy for their children and their income. That doesn't mean that increasing the production of teddy bears will increase average income. When the economy grow

      • I think you are misinterpreting the summary. They aren't saying that increasing greenhouse emissions cause economic growth. They are saying that usually economic growth leads to more buying which leads to more production which leads to more energy use which leads to increased emissions. BUT WAIT...That didn't happen this time. So, in effect, you are agreeing with the summary.
        --
        JimFive
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Precisely.

      Letting corporations and large banks borrow money at zero interest in order to purchase back their stocks and inflate asset prices is not the same as economic growth. Throw in massaged CPI numbers that underestimate inflation and we have what we see now, the outward appearance of economic growth in a declining economy.

      • by dmt0 ( 1295725 )

        Precisely.

        Letting corporations and large banks borrow money at zero interest in order to purchase back their stocks and inflate asset prices is not the same as economic growth. Throw in massaged CPI numbers that underestimate inflation and we have what we see now, the outward appearance of economic growth in a declining economy.

        mod parent up

  • Another explanation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @01:37PM (#49251685) Journal

    Another explanation is that the global economy has flat-lined or gone into recession. CO2 may be a leading economic indicator for the next crash. GDP figures are more easily faked than CO2 levels.

    • That's what I was thinking. Maybe time to short some stock...
    • by jmd ( 14060 )

      I tend to believe this is true about the global economy. It seems to me the simple way to say it is: A lot of the money has been sucked out of the global economy and hidden away. Thus the money is no longer useful.

      Here is another leading economic indicator: http://www.bangkokpost.com/business/tourism/496613/macau-gdp-shrinks-17-6

    • Another possibility is that the measured growth is a result of selling inventory and new production hasn't actually ramped up as much as the number indicates.
      --
      JimFive
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, this is more likely.
      China's economic growth has declined to lows in the past years, as Europe, Japan, and the US (despite all the happy propaganda talk).

      I can serve up lots of links on how poorly the economies are doing.
      http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-03-11/china-reports-worst-industrial-production-data-ever-outside-global-financial-crisis
      http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-03-13/what-happens-stock-market-if-us-follows-world-recession
      http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-03-12/q1-gdp-expectations-are-cr

      • I would be happier if your links were from some place other than Zero Hedge. They're a broken clock when it comes to economic catastrophe. Sooner or later they'll be right, simply because recessions happen now and then. Sometimes I think that what might happen is that the US economy does really well, people lose interest in doom and gloom. Then, ZH shuts down due to lack of Interest, and just a few weeks later the market crashes 50%. On a smaller scale, that reminds me of Kitco firing John Nadler at th

  • "A key stumbling block in the effort to combat global warming has been the intimate link between greenhouse gas emissions and economic growth."

    "The IEA suggested that decreasing use of coal in China — and upticks in renewable electricity generation there using solar, wind and hydropower — could have contributed to the reversal."

    Doing a stellar job at journalism.
  • I'm not sure there is really an absolute correllation between economic growth and greenhouse gas emmissions. An increase in stock value does not increase global emmissions per se.

    If the shadow banking, quantitative easing, and other shennagins are counted in the global economy there surely is no correllation.

    • I'm not sure there is really an absolute correllation between economic growth and greenhouse gas emmissions. An increase in stock value does not increase global emmissions per se.

      Well, it's good that economic growth is measured by production per GDP not stock value, isn't it?
      --
      JimFive

  • by Mike Van Pelt ( 32582 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @01:49PM (#49251775)

    But oh, no, it can't possibly be that China's fast-track of building new nuclear power plants had anything whatsoever to do with it, oh no, never never never never. (grumble grumble grumble)

    The CO2 problem will never be solved until the people who continue to loudly assert that they are so very very concerned about it get over their irrational dread of the only 24x7 source of energy that has the capacity to compete with coal.

    • by Klaxton ( 609696 )
      You're right it couldn't possibly be Chinese nuclear plants because they only generate about 2% of the country's electricity. As for building lots of nuke plants elsewhere, all you have to do is figure out how to finance them, who pays for the liability insurance (it better not be taxpayers), how to safely dispose of the existing waste, who is going to agree to live near them, and how to make them come online in less than 10 years.
    • by itzly ( 3699663 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @02:17PM (#49251979)

      According to wikipedia, nuclear is only responsible for 2% of the Chinese electricity right now, and most of that was already operational in 2013. They are fast-tracking new plants, but it'll take a while before these are on-line. They are aiming to get 6% of their electricity from nuclear in 2020.

    • by radl33t ( 900691 )
      Your right it has nothing to do with the insignificance of nuclear energy in China. Also coal is no longer the benchmark of cheap energy generation. Its natural gas. Welcome to the 21st century.
    • by Idou ( 572394 )
      Ah, and a new Slashdot meme is born!

      *Some positive energy/global warming related article is posted that does not explicitly attribute nuclear power*
      Some grumpy ./er grumbles: "but,but,but. . . NUCLEAR!"
    • The high price of oil likely played a bigger factor then nuclear power in China. With the lower price for oil, consumption will go back up for 2015. The high price lead to some investment in non-carbon energy sources but that investment has since stalled.
    • The pace for nuclear in China seems slow compared to wind and solar. http://www.worldnuclearreport.... [worldnuclearreport.org] and nuclear power seems to be in a rut so probably it's only contribution is not adding more opportunity cost by being moribund. http://www.worldnuclearreport.... [worldnuclearreport.org]
    • Probably not, more likely their building of solar and wind farms like crazy in the past few years in an effort to get to grips with their pollution problem. (In addition to bringing online new coal power plants to replace their oldest ones.) While they have been building some nuclear plants they have only just approved the first one since the 2011 disaster in Japan.

  • This just in, Carbon Dioxide still lags temperature.

    Seriously though, this appears to be implied CO2, rather than measured. And it seems to be "energy sector" rather than overall. Oh, and the alleged "3% global expansion" is even more imaginary.

    • Re:This just in (Score:4, Informative)

      by itzly ( 3699663 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @02:21PM (#49252011)

      This just in, Carbon Dioxide still lags temperature.

      Sometimes CO2 lags temperature, but even then it still leads additional temperature at the same time. Right now, it's only leading it. The oceans are still net sinks, taking up about 45% of the produced CO2.

      Seriously though, this appears to be implied CO2, rather than measured.

      They do both.

      • by itzly ( 3699663 )

        The oceans are still net sinks, taking up about 45% of the produced CO2.

        Correcting myself here: 45% is the percentage that stays in the atmosphere. About 26% is taken up by the oceans.

  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @02:08PM (#49251923) Homepage Journal

    It is the replacement of coal with natural gas that is really dropping the CO2 emissions.

  • Why all the anger? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @02:29PM (#49252065) Journal

    Why does it seem to piss off so many people that there is a bit of good news? What the hell is wrong with needing less and less fossil fuel?

    It's like every time there's any story that indicates renewable resources are becoming for efficient and economical, there has to be this rage over, "But alternative energy's going to kill us all and make us have to live in caves!"

    I guess once you've grabbed hold of a narrative, you'd rather die than give it up. Little by little, step by step, we're going to need less fossil fuel. Don't worry, we'll let you keep your Hummer H3 matchbox cars to play with.

    • I'm certainly not pissed off. I certainly don't believe this is good news, or much any news for that matter. It is a single 'data' point that has enormous (unstated) error bars and certainly does not give much support the thesis of the article - that there is not hard and fast correlation between CO2 out put and economic growth.

      The only interpretation that I can make is that the EIA - which is really a tool of the developed countries and particularly the energy exporting countries - is willing to discuss

  • E=P*S/T (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @02:41PM (#49252179) Homepage Journal

    Where
        E = Environmental impact
        P = Population
        S = Standard of living
        T = Technology

    I was at a symposium some twenty years ago when I saw a well known environmentalist write that on the board. He wasn't being literal mind you; this equation was a metaphor for how these factors interact.

    The world's population is increasing, and already many people are living in dire poverty. We naturally want to raise their standard of living, but that will raise their level of consumption which combined with their growing numbers could have devastating environmental consequences. Fortunately raising the living standards of people tends to reduce the number of children they have, so we have something of a lucky break there, but populations are still likely to grow under any development scenario.

    The message was this: if we want to preserve the environment AND raise living standards, we have to get our asses in gear on green technology.

    Now I think it's premature to declare success based on preliminary data about one year; the "win" could disappear with the discovery of a few accounting errors. But I think there's no question technology has got greener and that helps.

    • { joke } You missed one option - kill massive number of people. Amazing how many people (excluding ISIL, et al.) don't bother to ask "What would Hitler do?" { / joke }
      • by hey! ( 33014 )

        This is in fact one of the possible outcomes, although not necessarily by design. Since the environmental resources represented by "E" are not unlimited, and the level of consumption represented by "S" is not indefinitely reducible, without improved technology at some point the growth of P is curbed -- by death of people who can't extract enough resources from the environment to survive.

  • A child has jumped in front of our car, so we took our foot off the gas and stopped accelerating. We're only coasting now, we're absolved and any further responsibility because it's entirely up to the child to crawl out of our way. Maybe in a several more meters (years?) we'll apply pressure to the brakes and give the child a little more time to not have his brains splatter onto our grill..

  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @04:23PM (#49252743) Journal
    The ONLY reason that it flatlined is because china's growth has slowed way down, combined with the west making massive cuts.

    However, america's economy may actually lift china's, which will mean massive increases continue.

    For those of you who do not understand this, this is REAL values as opposed to the assumed numbers for this article. [livescience.com]

"Being against torture ought to be sort of a multipartisan thing." -- Karl Lehenbauer, as amended by Jeff Daiell, a Libertarian

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