by Larry Mongoss, guest blogger
China has taken the lead as the world’s biggest producer of carbon dioxide. Actually, according to some estimates, that title should have been granted in 2006, a year in which China’s CO2 emissions increased 9%. More important than the quickness with which China managed to pass the United States for this dubious honor is that speed with which emissions of CO2 are increasing. That is exponential – in the mathematically correct sense of the word – and 9% per year is a very big number.
The implications of this for global greenhouse gases are staggering. Were China to continue at a 9% exponential growth rate, and every other country hold to current output levels, worldwide output of CO2 would double from the levels of today in about 18 years. Of course what everyone is looking for is a way to decrease total CO2 output. If the rest of the world manages to reduce CO2 production by 5% per year then world output won’t double for 22 years. Little comfort that.
These calculations are very back-of-the-envelope, though these days it is an email-envelope. Others, with fancier, or at least more convoluted, math have concluded that we have at more like 35 years to a doubling. But while developed countries are looking at, if not embracing, technology to reduce carbon emissions, the developing world is trying to develop. When those lesser developed countries were economically tiny, how they developed did not much matter, but it does now. China is not going away, India is riding close behind, and the rest of the underdeveloped world would love to be on the same trajectory. The pressures to grow economically are stronger than those to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and, most importantly, they are driven from within. If good things are going to happen for the environment, it will take more than thoughtful science and demands from the international community.
My purpose in pointing this out is not to be an alarmist, however strongly the warning bells may be clanging. Rather, I am looking for opportunity – a silver lining in the billowing clouds of coal smoke and concrete dust. Continue to read here>>