Sigh. Or maybe, Egads! Yet another pessimistic study about the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) apocolypse and how nothing can stop it unless we all submit to vast new world-wide taxing and regulatory structures with near complete control of the world economy. We must live subsistence lives or else it is the end of the world!
It is not that the data in this most recent study is bad (although it only tabulated through 2008 which leaves some very interesting US energy usage/carbon emission data off the table), it is that the title screams pessimism. Instead of framing the topic as an interesting way to look at the economy in order to figure out how to reduce carbon emissions, it flatly states we are all screwed (AGW apocalypse) even though the economic recession has caused a dip in carbon emissions (especially in the US – a 20 year low - which I have documented before)
The reasons for the dramatic drop in US carbon emissions are multi-faceted, due in part to the ongoing recession, but also demographics, and technological progress. The recession is still here, the demographic trends continue to point toward lower population growth, and technological progress is quickening. A more comprehensive framing of the recent drop in carbon emissions (in much of the world – except the biggest polluter – China) would be more optimistic. What could be learned and promoted is a different way of looking at progress and growth. We CAN have “progress” without building huge sprawling highways,suburbs, and exurbs. We CAN have “growth” without building more parking lots and strip malls. Happiness, health, and safety are not dependent upon 20th century infrastructure and “shovel-ready” jobs designed to build more redundant stuff. Why the heck do we need more houses anyway when there are way over 10 million sitting empty right now!
We should be looking at how we have made it through this recession thus far. How have we put food on the table when jobs have become more scarce? How are we still running the economy with lower carbon emissions? The message should be one of optimism for a cleaner environmental future, not the old and trite “carbon emissions are down in the recession….but we are all still doomed” statement.
A couple of space exploration updates:
* The extreme skydiver who wants to break the record for highest free-fall jump and for breaking the sound barrier is now scheduled to jump tomorrow.
* Hooray for SpaceX! Their Dragon capsule has launched and is headed for the ISS on an unmanned re-supply mission. For those interested in space exploration, I cannot state how important this is. The US (and many advanced countries) are broke or bankrupt. The human space exploration once-dreamed of so vividly in the 20th century is not going to happen primarily through NASA. It will happen through private space firms. This is not a knock on NASA or their engineers/astronauts. It is just financial reality. NASA will continue to do great work with un-manned exploration – I am sure. But if you ever had a dream of travelling to space yourself – ala Star Trek or other space based sci-fi, almost all of our hopes rely upon the likes of SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, Bigelow Aerospace, Google, and many others. Support private space exploration.
Have a good Monday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.
This post was written by jloew on October 8, 2012