The Other Bush Legacy: Carbon Emissions Soar

Carbon emissions show sharp riseAnd by soar, we mean the rate of growth has more than doubled. In 2000, carbon dioxide emissions were rising less than 1% annually. Today they are rising more than 2.5% annually.

The world added 7.9 billion metric tons of carbon in 2005 alone, up from 6.8 billion in 2000. The news comes from an analysis by the Global Carbon Project that BBC reported on.

And while this news may not get the same headlines as the unfolding tragedy in Iraq, it is no less tragic. We need to decrease emissions to far below 2000 levels by 2050, to avoid catastrophic warming. The more we add now, the more we have to cut later–and the less time we have to achieve those cuts.

Just as the Iraq Study Group report makes clear that a “business as usual” or “stay the course” strategy for Iraq is a recipe for failure, the same is true of our climate policy.

The Energy Department’s latest report projects America’s carbon dioxide emissions will increase by one third from 2005 to 2030. This does, however, assume we continue Bush administration policies for the next quarter-century (which, fortunately, seems unlikely).

Still, the pro-carbon domestic and international policies of Bush have left us a legacy of dirty power plants and inefficient cars at home and abroad. And the effects of this legacy will endure long past the time Iraq no longer makes headlines.

8 Responses to The Other Bush Legacy: Carbon Emissions Soar

  1. […] “In 2000, carbon dioxide emissions were rising less than 1% annually. Today they are rising more than 2.5% annually.” More on Climate Progress.   1:54 pm | Comment (0) […]

  2. Carl says:

    If you want to decrease carbon dioxide emissions, how about starting by turning your Web server off? Or do you just advocate that OTHERS should do all the cutting back?

  3. Joe says:

    I advocate the government setting the emissions targets and letting the free market decide the best strategies for meeting the targets. Thanks for asking!

  4. Joe says:

    Carl, you bring up an extremely relevant point. Individual behavior matters.

    That said, check out these websites to make your individual behavior consistent with your climate change convictions:

    Minimize your Carbon Footprint:

    Climate Future Group’s Solutions for Businesses, Individuals and with Technology:

    However, speaking more generally, the answer is, in short, behind three words: lifestyle and efficiency, the key being technology.

    In social and technological development, humanity has reached an irreversible crux in how we function. We rely on computers, the Internet and mass communication, and I am not challenging that. I am not suggesting that we shut down the very foundation of modern-day progress.

    What I am suggesting is that we rework how taxing our progress is on the environment, and that means, in the case of computers, improving energy efficiency (to start). In the European Union over the past several years, countries (like Denmark) have progressed without negative impact on their economies or the environment. This is the example we must follow.

    The beauty of technology is that used correctly, it bridges the gap between the desired outcome and lifestyle compromises. There are multiple potential sources of electricity, for example solar power or wind power, and we do need to start implementing them. That’s why states and cities across the country have begun adopting renewable portfolio standards. Alternatives exist and we need to start to pursue them fervently.

    Ultimately, I advocate that the market decide the best strategies. Unfortunately, the United States has allowed little room for a market to do that. We have no cap-and-trade scheme like the EU and we under-fund research and development into clean energy technologies.

    While I am sympathetic to your concern, the response is, as always, more complicated. But the sooner we act, the more time we have to resolve these seeming paradoxes.

  5. hippie with a pistol says:

    should read:

    Total growth of GHG emission rates in the US 2001 to 2004 (latest data from 2006 report) was less than 1%/yr.

  6. Kari says:

    hippie with a pistol,

    Could you please cite your info/quotation?


  7. hippie with a pistol says:

    EPA Emissions Report 2006. Very detailed. I think there is a trends appendix with summaries. Required annually to be provided by Kyoto and Annex I countries. It’s in my post buy not clear?

  8. hippie with a pistol says:

    You don’t mean the quote I started with from CP’s second sentence in the thread?