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June 28, 2006



I stumbled across your blog while I was doing some online research. I found the statistics you presented quite intriguing, especially since they seem to contradict so much of what we hear in the media.

Sullivan Energy Partners

I don't know if this contradicts what we hear in the media. Global carbon emissions are still rising at a fast rate due to the explsive growth of Asia's energy use. With regards to climate change, it's the global numbers that matter not how they're distributed amongst nation-states. The media are absoulutly right to sound the alarm on climate change and call out policymakers for not stopping the global rises in emissions.

al fin

Given increased forestation in North America documented in the recent DOE/NASA report, the overall CO2 contribution from North America is likely to be going down. They never want to include vegetation and forestation in the stats.

Kyoto gives China and India a free pass to increase their CO2 emissions as much as they want. Is that what you mean SEP, by calling out policymakers? You mean Indian and Chinese policymakers? Because those are the ones directly linked to global emissions growth.

I like to compare the debate at climate audit org with the debate at real climate org . You have to read them both. The media is worse than worthless when it comes to reporting on science. The media is itself a special interest, a power player with its own vested interests. For what the media's worth, we may as well be blind, deaf, and dumb.

Earth Day Network

Very interesting, thanks posting such a great article!


al fin,

China and India are growing players, but US emissions dwarf theirs by more than a factor of two.

My question to the cognoscenti:

I understand why this year's carbon dioxide intensity dropped as much as it did, but why did it also drop steadily since the 80s, even though inflation-adjusted gas prices were dropping or holding steady?

Less coal?



China's carbon emission rate even nominally is not less than half of that of the United States.

And when corrected for GDP-PPP, China's emission rate is 84% of that of the United States. China's methane emission rate may be higher than that of the Unites States (dams can be large methane producers).

India's rate is nominally less than a quarter of that of the United States, but when corrected for GDP-PPP is 71% of same.

One point to consider is that in India and China the poor do not have the access to carbon-emitting goods and services that they do in the United States. Pulling the plug on the poor in the United States might shift carbon-emission dominance onto India and China.

Sullivan Energy Partners

Al Fin,

Your right to say Kyoto gives Chindia a pass and that the media are thus too pro-kyoto. But we must not use Kyoto's failings to justify inaction on climate change. What we need is a new climate treaty that binds every nation to reducing emmissions through a global market-based cap and trade system. Only such a system will reduce carbon emmisions globally.


hitssquad, if you corrected for gdp-ppp and China and India each have emission rates less than 100% of America's, doesn't that meant that both China and India are more efficient than America currently is?

Not to mention that given American trade imbalances, some portion of China and Indian carbon production is for American usage, I would guess.

Nor is it clear to me that we should be correcting for gdp rather than population--if we correct for gdp, a nation that conserves energy by conserving in general, consuming and producing fewer products across the board, could appear to become less efficient. Efficiency doesn't have to only be at the assembly line--it could also be in how we restructure our society to find happiness in things other than material goods.


In reality renewable energy will win because it costs 75 cents per equivalent gallon of liquid fuel (at retail electric rates), and 2 cents per kwh (and dropping)for wind generated electricity (at wholesale electric rates).

The rest is largely irrelevant after thought. Eventually the free market will struggle free again from oil warring empire to make this happen. Economics underlies everything humans do.

Mother nature's bill for fossil and nuclear energy is coming due. How many Katrina sized storms are enough to illuminate the darkness of corporate greed and political lies? How many oil wars and terror incidents? How much suffering from storm, drought, and rising oceans?



1. Yes. It means that Matt's assertion that "US emissions dwarf theirs by more than a factor of two" would appear to be unsustainable, unless -- given that India's "carbon efficiency" is so high -- he meant China and India combined.

3. If we correct for GDP, then we place value on GDP. If we correct for discrete mass of human life, then we place value on discrete mass of human life.


That assertion would indeed be wrong, (so far as my under-educated self can discern) but it would also seem that, no matter how you slice it--GDP, population, or raw tons--the U.S. is still out in front of India and China.

If countries would boost population just to make their carbon per person stats look nicer (not sure what incentive they'd have to do that other than bragging rights), then CO2 per person would indeed be a mistake to focus on. But CO2 per GDP doesn't seem satisfying either. I suppose you could take polls on how satisfied people are and multiply that by the population and use that quanitity to divide C02, but the whole thing becomes subjective and philosophical at that point.

The grim truth, however annoying it might be to left brain thinkers like myself, is that convincing people to be more satisfied with less stuff ("the best things in life are free") may become a major component in reducing the carbon usage of developed countries, and there just isn't anyway to do that without getting all subjective and philosophical.

Jim from The Energy Blog

Although I generally try to just present the facts for my readers information and for them to discuss, it seems to me that the mass of CO2 produced by a country is the only measure that counts since global warming is directly related to the amount of CO2 generated.

Even though their was an insignificant increase in the US production of CO2 they are still largest producer and as such should have more responsibility than they have taken. The fact that their technology is more efficient and their productivity increase is large are but a start. Control of older powerplant emissions is lacking and this administrations enforcement policies are embarrassing. California vehicle emission standards should be required by all states.

But after all is said and done it is new technology like better combustion in all sources from cars to power plants and better conservation that is required to make a differance. More efficient diesel engines, redesigned combustion chambers, stationary fuel cells, plug-in vehicles, etc. will all contribute. Additionally and importantly, mass transportation, better building insulation, efficiient lighting and personal conservation carry a large burden. Renewables, especially wind and biofuels in the short term, with solar eventually making the greatest contribution, will, of course, play an increasingly important role.


We seem to be doing very well without any additional regulations.

Joe Deely

A couple of other points...

Total energy consumption for US was actually down last year.

Even better, the first quarter of this year saw a 5.6% increase in GDP... and according to EIA a 3% drop in energy consumption!

"In the first quarter of 2006, the United States produced 1 percent less energy than in the first quarter of 2005; total net imports of energy were down 1 percent; and total energy consumption was down 3 percent."

for report see - http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/mer/contents.html

There was also a good rise in renewable energy production as well as nuclear production. So, unless we have a really hot summer/fall I think that CO2 in the US will decline this year.

Roger 333

I have just stumbled ovber this very useful blog and will point some of my fellow students this way too.

The course I'm studying deals with issues of poverty and sustainability and we focus quite hard on China because it is a transitional state , moving from agrarian to industrialized. Lots of good stuff here.

One straight low-level question you may be able to help with.

The course material (2001) states flatly that the US is responsible for a quarter of the World's carbon emissions.

Is this true today ?

I'll be interested to hear views on this.

david sullenger

hello. all this talk about alterative energy makes me laugh. get real folks. this won't work.its too slow. why not develop a technology that can transform co2 at the source of combustion if you really want to rapidly lower co2 emissions worldwide. businesses might get behind a technogy that would make them money. a device that attaches to the tailpipe like a catalytic converter and reduces or eliminates co2 could be the answer. every business that burns fossil fuels would continue to thrive until we run out of fuel. todays alternative energy will become our childrens main source of energy. not in my lifetime. thanks for listening. let me know what you think.

Jeannie Lucas

Having just seen 'An inconvenient truth', I cannot understand why there is such diversity of opinion in the e-mails on this site, on whether emissions are going up or down, larger or smaller than last year, etc. etc.

The statistics given in the film clearly show that emissions are rising and rising, to unacceptable levels.

Jeannie Lucas

I don't even know what a 'TypeKey or TypePad account' is!!


Here's a convenient truth Jeannie. Prairie grasses absorb 1.8 tons of cO2 per acre per year according to Minnesota university research.

That means a 4000 square mile tract of restored prairie would neutralize US CO2 emissions. That is the equivalent land area of a square 200 miles on a side.

Marginal farmland in the northern great plains turned into a new national park and wind farm would actually lower GHG concentrations. I wish Al would get behind an effort like this.

Since the US is responsible for around 30% of total human produced GHGs, eliminating CO2 emitting sources with renewables would mean the US alone could reverse global climate disaster.

But fortunately we are not alone. In fact, as Al pointed out, only the US and Austrailia have not signed the Kyoto agreement. If we lead, the rest of the planet will follow.

Why? Because renewable distributed energy storage and generation is a huge potential economic growth engine. With the uS the biggest consumer market, if we do it, everyone will want in on the prosperity.

I saw the movie yesterday too, did you participate in the conference call with Al? It was not available here. Someone needs to get him to add a segment to his excellent slide show and update the movie.

A segment on solutions, like this proposed Prairie National Park (and wind farm)and distributed renewable power. Evey suitable roofspace capturing solar, every possible vehicle a power storage and generation source to backup a grid mainly powered by renewables (V2G, vehicle to grid), and every coastal city powered with floating wind/wave platforms 10 miles offshore.


Dr. X wrote: every coastal city powered with floating wind/wave platforms 10 miles offshore.

Like this one?

Did you know that
"the build-up of salt on the blades of offshore turbines has been shown to reduce the generated power by 20-30%"?

Has any wind facility ever sent more energy to the grid than it drew from the grid?


The Horns Rev problems seem to be manufacturing mistakes rather than siting or basic problems with windpower.

I have had extensive debate with Eric on my blog and others buddy. I addressed a lot of his complaints already.

The PDF, like Eric's presentation, is an anti-wind advocacy piece. Propaganda plain and simple. A very few factual observations taken out of context to create an overall impression that wind power is unreliable and uneconomical.

The feller who wrote the PDF even states that water vapor, not human caused extra CO2, is most likely causing global climate change.

The time to debate propagandist deniers and propagandist renewable energy critics is over. It is now (actually a few decades late)time to act.

Watch "An Inconvenient Truth" buddy. Maybe that will show you what is really happening. It shows exactly why immediate action is needed. There just isn't time to deal with blatant propaganda like this.

As Al Gore shows in the movie, the same propaganda methods to "create doubt" about human caused global climate change were used in the past by the tobacco industry to create doubt about the link between smoking and cancer. He showed the leaked memo that proved it.

We have wind, water, and solar power with costs dropping below that of fossil and nuclear power, even with huge outright subsidies and hidden subsidies, like a pass on liability and paying for waste storage and disposal, for nuclear plants.

Level the competition by either dropping subsidies for fossil and nuclear and/or raising direct tax credits to consumers for renewables, plugin hybrids, and conservation. Get this energy revolution going before oil war/nuclear terrorism and global climate disaster overtake civilization.

As you know buddy, I am also in favor of a few new generation experimental nukes to test wether they can actually neutralize waste and make their own fuel (as nuclear advocates routinely claim).

Prove it can be done in a cost effective manner that competes on cost per kwh with renewables over the next decade. It takes at least that long to build and test a new nuclear power plant.

But of course we can't afford to wait 10 years, because building out 100s of new nuclear plants needed to even put a dent in GHGs would take decades after that.

We already have the technology to solve the problem now. Mass production employing massive capital infusion to renwables and conservation is next. Incentivise investment by consumers with tax credits funded by the withdrawal of corporate welfare for fossil fuel and nuclear power and fuel farming.

A simple plan that lets real capitalism, competitive capitalism practiced by the US startups pioneering fuel cells, batteries,solar,wind, wave power, and plugin vehicles, manufacture our way out of these looming disasters.


Dr. X wrote: I have had extensive debate with Eric on my blog

I searched your blog and did not find any posts by Eric Rosenbloom (also known as ericr). In what year did he post? In what month did he post?


I believe he posted anonomously on my blog so I can't prove it was him, but I also had long discussions on Gristmill with him.



It seems to me that cutting back on immigration would be one of the best ways to curb future increases in U.S. CO2 emissions. Our "American" lifestyle is very energy intensive. Each new immigrant adds to that burden. Why dig a deeper hole for ourselves than we have too? Isn't a U.S. population of 300 million already more than enough? Why not cap legal immigration at 100,000 per year, actually enforce the immigration laws already on the books, and make an honest effort to secure our borders?
Seems like common sense to me...


We cannot continue using the air, land and seas as garbage dumps. That is a fact.
That CO2 has anything to do with climate change is not.
Our planet's climate has changed many times over it's history, with no help from humans.
Also, to deny developing nations, like those in Africa, the ability to burn coal or oil to improve their economy, is criminal.

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