And 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.
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.
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.