[Marxism] Greenhouse Gas Emissions Accelerate Like a ‘Speeding Freight Train’ in 2018
lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Dec 6 06:38:12 MST 2018
NY Times, Dec. 6, 2018
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Accelerate Like a ‘Speeding Freight Train’ in 2018
By Kendra Pierre-Louis
Greenhouse gas emissions worldwide are growing at an accelerating pace
this year, researchers said Wednesday, putting the world on track to
face some of the most severe consequences of global warming sooner than
Scientists described the quickening rate of carbon dioxide emissions in
stark terms, comparing it to a “speeding freight train” and laying part
of the blame on an unexpected surge in the appetite for oil as people
around the world not only buy more cars but also drive them farther than
in the past — more than offsetting any gains from the spread of electric
“We’ve seen oil use go up five years in a row,” said Rob Jackson, a
professor of earth system science at Stanford and an author of one of
two studies published Wednesday. “That’s really surprising.”
Worldwide, carbon emissions are expected to increase by 2.7 percent in
2018, according to the new research, which was published by the Global
Carbon Project, a group of 100 scientists from more than 50 academic and
research institutions and one of the few organizations to
comprehensively examine global emissions numbers. Emissions rose 1.6
percent last year, the researchers said, ending a three-year plateau.
Reducing carbon emissions is central to stopping global warming. Three
years ago nearly 200 nations hammered out the Paris Agreement with a
goal of holding warming below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (two degrees
Celsius) over preindustrial levels.
Avoiding that threshold — already considered challenging — is viewed as
a way to stave off some of the worst effects of climate change, like
melting polar ice caps and rising sea levels. For the Paris goals to be
met, scientists say, global emissions from power plants, factories, cars
and trucks, as well as those from deforestation, would need to swiftly
begin declining to zero.
President Trump, however, has vowed to pull the United States out of the
accord and has moved to roll back Obama-era regulations designed to
limit emissions from vehicle tailpipes and power-plant smokestacks. On
Tuesday he wrote on Twitter that the Paris Agreement was “fatally
flawed” because its system of voluntary pledges let other countries off
the hook, adding that “American taxpayers — and American workers —
shouldn’t pay to clean up others countries’ pollution.”
An American withdrawal would represent a serious blow to the pact. The
United States, one of the wealthiest nations in the world, is
responsible for a third of all human-caused carbon emissions to date,
more than any other country. China is now the largest emitter of
The new report comes as delegates from nearly 200 countries are meeting
in Poland to debate their next steps under the Paris climate agreement.
Many nations haven’t been meeting their self-imposed targets.
The new assessment is the third major scientific report in recent months
to send a message that the world is failing to make sufficient progress
to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
Last month the White House published findings by 13 federal agencies
predicting that global warming could knock hundreds of billions of
dollars off the size of the American economy by century’s end,
particularly by disrupting trade and agriculture. And in October, the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations scientific
group, issued an alarming report warning that emissions are rising at a
rate that will open the door to widespread food shortages, wildfires,
coastal flooding and population displacement by 2040.
As part of the latest report, scientists wrote Wednesday in the journal
Nature that the recent rise in global emissions, combined with other
factors such as natural temperature fluctuations, could bring those dire
consequences a decade sooner, by 2030.
“For those of us that work in this space, seeing the rates of emissions
accelerate is deeply dismaying, and it confirms the very clear lack of
systemic action and change that we’re seeing across many lines of state,
national and global organization,” said Sarah E. Myhre, a research
associate at the University of Washington who was not involved in the
“It just means that the problem will be harder to fix down the line,”
she said. “We’re continuing to buck-pass this problem to our kids and
our future selves.”
The analysis found that the world is on pace to release a record 37.1
gigatons of planet-warming emissions in 2018, led in large part by
China, the United States and India. That is roughly 100,000 times the
weight of the Empire State Building.
Even as coal has fallen out of favor in some markets, the rise in
emissions has been driven by stronger demand for natural gas and oil,
scientists said. And even as the use of renewable energy like solar and
wind power has expanded exponentially, it has not been enough to offset
the increased use of fossil fuels.
“We thought oil use had peaked in the U.S. and Europe 15 years ago,” Dr.
Jackson said. “The cheap gasoline prices, bigger cars and people driving
more miles are boosting oil use at rates that none of us expected.”
More investment will be needed in the transportation sector to cut
pollution, said Corinne Le Quéré, a professor of climate change science
and policy at the University of East Anglia and lead author of one of
the new studies. “We have electric cars, but we need charging points, we
need to lower the costs of electric vehicles,” she said.
China produces 27 percent of global emissions, according to the report.
The United States accounts for 15 percent of emissions, the European
Union 10 percent and India 7 percent.
China’s emissions are projected to rise 4.7 percent in 2018, the report
said. The country is stimulating manufacturing to counterbalance its
slowing economy, allowing more coal-based manufacturing that it had
avoided in the past, Dr. Jackson said.
China is investing heavily in renewable energy, but it is also building
new coal-fired power plants at home and planning others in new markets
such as sub-Saharan Africa.
United States emissions are expected to rise 2.5 percent this year after
several years of declines, and despite a shift away from coal toward
cleaner sources of energy. Dr. Jackson attributed part of the increase
this year to a colder-than-normal winter in some parts of the country
and a hotter summer in other parts, which inflated demand for heating
In India, a projected emissions increase of 6.3 percent is linked to the
country’s effort to provide electricity to 300 million people who
currently lack it.
Last year, extreme weather disasters cost the United States a record
Dr. Jackson said the new report was “not good news,” but added that it
still contained “some glimmers of hope,” particularly about air
pollution associated with the burning of coal for fuel. “Coal use has
dropped 40 percent in the United States, replaced by natural gas and
renewables,” he said. “That’s saving lives as well as helping the
For more news on climate and the environment, follow @NYTClimate on Twitter.
Kendra Pierre-Louis is a reporter on the climate team. Before joining
The Times in 2017, she covered science and the environment for Popular
More information about the Marxism