Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Mound Of Sound Guest Post: The Relentless Growth of CO2

I put this item together a while ago but I was reminded of it today while reading a report from the WMO, the World Meteorological Organization, that April will go in the books as the first month in which atmospheric CO2 topped 400 ppm throughout the northern hemisphere. Not just one nasty region here or there, the entire bloody northern hemisphere. That's change you can believe in (sorry Barack).

Scientists say emissions will need to peak by 2020 and then decline rapidly to limit warming to 2C, a target agreed at the 2009 round of UN talks in Copenhagen.

According to the UN climate science panel, the world has already used between half and two-thirds of its “carbon budget” the amount of CO2 that can be released before the 2C goal is impossible.

This got me thinking about our chances of peaking our emissions by 2020 and then slashing them rapidly after that. At that point a quiz I recently spotted in The Globalist popped to mind.

The Globalist website posts a weekly quiz and they're generally pretty thought-provoking.

A recent one dealt with automobile manufacturing in 2013. How many cars were built in 2013? How about 83-million! China accounted for 27% of global sales. More telling was the fact that it wasn't until 2010 that we reached the 73-million auto mark. That's an increase of 10-million in just three years. Even more depressing is the forecast of 100-million cars to be produced in 2018, a third of them for the Chinese market.

What does that information tell you? In eight years we're going to go from producing 73-million cars to building 100-million. That means we'll be adding another hundred million cars a year to the hundreds of millions of older cars already prowling the planet's roads and highways. Now imagine what that's going to mean in the context of oil and gasoline consumption, water consumption (it takes 39,000 gallons of water to build a car), and of course greenhouse gas emissions. Hey kids, we're so screwed!

Another Globalist quiz looked at energy rich Nigeria and how much electricity the average Nigerian consumes in a year. It's about as much as the average person uses to power their microwave over the course of a year. That's because Nigeria is a corrupt petro-state and all that oil wealth mysteriously never makes it down to the ordinary folks.

How about electricity production from renewables? Brazil is the winner in the clean power contest at 82%. Canada comes in at 63% clean electricity, mainly through provincial hydro-electric generation (no thanks to Ottawa). The United States? Under 13%, well below the global average of 20% which also happens to be China's renewable electricity level.

You can find all the quizzes, including archives, here. If, like me, you're interested in issues pertaining to globalization, you can subscribe to their daily e-mail briefing. It's as timely as it is insightful.

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