It’s a message no one wants to hear: To slow down global warming, we’ll either have to put the brakes on economic growth or transform the way the world’s economies work.
That’s the implication of an innovative University of Michigan study examining the evolution of atmospheric CO₂, the most likely cause of global warming.
Atmospheric CO2 (monthly average) as measured in air samples collected at Mauna Loa, Hawaii (Keeling curve) from Feburary 1958 to Februrary 2012. Units are parts per million by volume. Estimated preindustrial concentrations, at levels between 200 and 300 ppm, would be far out of the graph.The study, conducted by José Tapia Granados and Edward Ionides of U-M and Óscar Carpintero of the University of Valladolid in Spain, was published online in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Policy. It is the first analysis to use measurable levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide to assess fluctuations in the gas, rather than estimates of CO₂ emissions, which are less accurate.
“If ‘business as usual’ conditions continue, economic contractions the size of the Great Recession or even bigger will be needed to reduce atmospheric levels of CO₂,” said Tapia Granados, who is a researcher at the U-M Institute for Social Research.
This is really the core of this issue. Ever since Jimmy Carter put on his sweater and addressed the nation about energy conservation–and was rejected at the polls–the key issue here isn’t whether the Republicans are “scientific” or not, but whether the American people are ready to take a major hit in their standard of living for energy conservation or reduction of carbon emissions or whatever. Trying to sugar coat this with “green jobs” or new energy sources (which will take a while to really bring up to speed, unless the left is ready to literally go nuclear) won’t cut it. Up to now the answer has been “no”; the Democrat-controlled 2009 Congress was unable to get global warming legislation out, something that was in part effected by the health care debate sucking the oxygen out of the agenda.
But wait…maybe Barack Obama killed two (or more) birds with one stone. We get routinely regaled with calls for carbon taxes and other means of cutting carbon emissions, but this study shows an easier way: just tank the economy! Look at the graph above, especially 2008. If Obama can make these conditions or worse the norm–and with Obamacare added with the new stampede of regulations, it’s going to happen–he can also cut carbon emissions, which forwards his environmental agenda.
There are ways of getting things done, and then there are ways of getting things done…