Year 3, Month 6, Day 6: The Longest Moustache…

The Miami Herald runs an AP story from Neela Banerjee about our giant carbon-emission numbers:

WASHINGTON — Emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide reached an all-time high last year, further reducing the chances that the world could avoid a dangerous rise in global average temperature by 2020, according to the International Energy Agency, the energy analysis group for the world’s most industrialized states.

Global emissions of carbon-dioxide, or CO2, from fossil-fuel combustion hit a record high of 31.6 gigatonnes in 2011, according to the IEA’s preliminary estimates, an increase of 1 Gt, or 3.2 percent from 2010.

The burning of coal accounted for 45 percent of total energy-related CO2 emissions in 2011, followed by oil (35 percent) and natural gas (20 percent).

According to the vast majority of climatologists, the rapid rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because of industrialization over the last 150 years has led to an increase in global average temperature by about 1 degree Celsius.

Yay, us. Sent May 27:

Most world record attainments are occasions for pride. The fastest, the strongest, the furthest, the most powerful. But the news that 2011 set a record for global carbon emissions is no cause for celebration.

It’s not just that post-industrial humans have pumped more CO2 into the atmosphere than ever before, but that we’ve known for decades about the likely consequences of a runaway greenhouse effect — thereby making 2011’s accomplishment a world record for willful ignorance as well as destructive pollution.

The huge quantities of greenhouse gases we’ve set loose indicate not just our burgeoning fossil-fuel consumption, but of our inability to clean up the waste products of our profligate lifestyle. Another landmark achievement: whether it’s turning oil into disposable plastic containers, or burning gasoline in our idling vehicles, we’re number one when it comes to converting the Carboniferous era’s ancient sunlight into toxic trash. Notify the Guinness Book of Records!

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 1, Day 16: The Winnah!

The San Antonio Chronicle notes the recent release of EPA data on GHG emissions. Texas, of course, is number one:

As the nation’s light switch and gas pump, Texas releases far more greenhouse gases into the air than any other state, according to federal data released Wednesday.

Texas’ coal-fired power plants and oil refineries generated 294 million tons of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in 2010, more than the next two states — Pennsylvania and Florida — combined, the data shows.

The Environmental Protection Agency released the data by industrial facility for the first time as part of a broader effort to reduce emissions linked to global warming.


The American Petroleum Institute, a leading industry trade group, said the federal data proves that there is no reason to include oil refineries in any new rules because they generate a small fraction of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, compared to coal-fired power plants.

“Air quality continues to improve, and we’re doing our part,” said Howard Feldman, API’s director of regulatory and scientific affairs. “The last thing we need now are more burdensome or unnecessary regulations that will create a drag on business efforts to invest, expand and put people back to work.”

The American Petroleum Institute should go f**k itself. Sent January 12:

In a macro-scale version of the “My carbon footprint is bigger than your carbon footprint” bumper sticker, Texan exceptionalists will surely savor the news that their state ranks highest in the country in greenhouse emissions. American exceptionalists, meanwhile, must comfort themselves over our country’s loss of first place in global CO2 output with the knowledge that we are still number one in per capita releases of greenhouse gases.

Obviously, this is a foolish straw-man argument. But the American Petroleum Institute’s response to the EPA is pretty silly, too; they’re basically saying, “Since we’re not as bad as coal, let’s end all those burdensome regulations!” Once freed from regulation, of course, they’ll be free to pollute more comprehensively.

Ultimately, however, the ultimate absurdity is that in order to maintain our growth-driven economy, we’re prepared to trigger a greenhouse effect of a magnitude unprecedented in human history. That’s not silly. That’s suicidal.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 11, Day 17: If We Stop Giving Money To The Oil Companies…

The NOAA has more exciting news for connoisseurs of impending doom:

Greenhouse gases are building at a steep rate in the atmosphere, the nation’s top climate agency reported, renewing concern that global warming may be accelerating.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Annual Greenhouse Gas Index, which indexes the key gases known to trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere, rose 1.5% from 2009 to 2010, the agency reported.

The reported rise comes on top of an analysis by the Energy Department last week saying that global emissions of carbon dioxide, a key, long-lived greenhouse gas, had jumped by the biggest increment on record in 2010. The figures showed a 6% increase from the year before, a steeper rise than worst-case scenarios that had been laid out by climate experts four years before.

This started out as a revision of the letter I sent to the Boston Globe a few days ago. It’s always fun to mock Rick Perry a bit, so that wound up as the lede. Sent November 13:

It was just a few days ago that Rick Perry finally — oops! — remembered his intention to defund the Department of Energy — coincidentally, the agency responsible for one of the most alarming recent reports on climate change. Can anyone doubt that every single Republican presidential candidate would enthusiastically endorse a similar response to the NOAA, whose Annual Greenhouse Gas Index is reporting equally bad news?

The NOAA report is terrifying to anyone willing to read the numbers. The consequences of such drastic increases in GHG emissions include devastating storms, droughts, out-of-season precipitation and other forms of extreme weather — all leading inevitably to disrupted agriculture and infrastructure on the regional level. Climate change’s geopolitical effects include resource wars and increased political instability, according to both military and CIA analyses.

In the GOP’s world, bad news disappears when you stop paying for it. If only it were that easy.

Warren Senders