Under Trump administration policies, U.S. emissions of CO2 went up — substantially — from 2017 to 2018, according to analysis from the economic firm Rhodium Group.
The Guardian reports:
Rhodium Group tracks the most prevalent greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide. The firm found a modest decrease in carbon emissions between 2016 and 2017, in part because of a warmer-than-usual winter that didn’t require as much heating. Since then carbon output has surged.
The firm’s analysis suggests that this bodes ill for future U.S. emissions now that the Trump administration has undercut Obama’s policies to limit them:
“The tailwinds of Obama administration policy are dissipating,” said Trevor Houser, a partner at the firm. “This year makes it abundantly clear that energy market trends alone – the low cost of natural gas, the increasing competitiveness of renewables – are not enough to deliver sustained declines in US emissions.”
Some of the slack has been taken up by local governments, but in the long run it needs federal help:
Houser said the numbers would have been worse without the state and local policies enacted during the past five to 10 years. But that the groundswell of climate commitments by governors and mayors since Trump said he would exit the international Paris climate agreement might not translate into policy for some time, he added. He said those efforts are likely to be significant but not sufficient to meet the levels the US pledged.
It’s interesting to consider, not just the progress of CO2 emissions, but how much is in the atmosphere. This is measured in parts per million, usually just called “ppm,” and has been monitored continuously since the late 1950s at the Mauna Loa atmospheric observatory in Hawaii. Without further ado:
The prominent seasonal cycle is due to the fact that most of the world’s land is in the northern hemisphere. During northern spring and summer, CO2 decreases as plant growth extracts it from the air, then during northern autumn and winter plant decay returns it to the atmosphere. We can remove the seasonal cycle to give us a clearer picture of the trend changes, like this:
Not only has CO2 been on the rise, its rate of increasing is has been getting faster.
I posted about that fact just about ten years ago. Let’s take the data available back then, through 2008 but no later, and extend its trend into the future. We won’t just extent a straight-line trend either, we’ll extend the accelerating trend into the next decade. Finally we’ll compare that to what has actually happened since.
Here’s a solid blue line for the accelerating trend (quadratic fit by least squares) using the data through 2008, and a black line showing the data:
The two are so close that at times, it’s hard to tell them apart. We can easily extent the trend estimate into the future — acceleration and all — which I’ll add as a red line:
That’s what would have happened had it followed the same trend exactly. And what did happen? This:
As you can see, not only did CO2 keep rising, not only did it continue to rise at least as fast as that still-accelerating trend, it managed to get a bit higher lately.
If we’re going to keep CO2 levels low enough, we have to reduce emissions. This needs to happen worldwide, and the United States can be one of the leaders. Hell, we can show ’em how it’s done. In the USA I grew up in, we didn’t whine about what China and India weren’t doing. We didn’t accept “it’s too difficult.” We chose to go to the moon and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.
I’ve been blogging about this for over ten years. In that time America has failed even to meet the challenge, let alone conquer it. America has fallen. My America can get back up again.
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