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    These 7 Nations Are Global Warming's Biggest Offenders
    By News Staff | February 1st 2014 11:53 AM | 6 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    When it comes to global warming, there are seven big contributors: China is obviously number one, but exempt from climate treaties, as is India and Brazil. Also leading are the United States, gradually weaning itself off of the coal increases that occurred when environmentalists drove nuclear power from the country. Russia, Germany and the United Kingdom round the list out.

    A new article in Environmental Research Letters blames these countries for more than 60 percent of pre-2005 global warming. Uniquely, it also assigns a temperature change value to each country that reflects its contribution to observed global warming.


    It's gotten better since 2005 in developed nations, obviously. The US is down to early 1990s levels of CO2 emissions, thanks to the inroads made by natural gas, and Germany now wants to abandon its wind and solar fiascoes and do the same thing.

    The new analysis was done under the leadership of Damon Matthews, an associate professor in the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment  at Concordia. In a straight ranking, the U.S. was then the leader, responsible for a global temperature increase of 0.15 C. That's close to 20 percent of the observed warming and matches the country's reliance on coal rather than the cleaner nuclear energy used in Europe and parts of Asia. Those numbers were also before outside impartial monitoring of China, when China was providing its own numbers for emissions. 

    China and Russia accounted for around 8 percent each, Brazil and India 7 percent, and Germany and the U.K. around 5 percent each. Canada uses far electricity than the U.S. per capita but is only in 10th place due to a smaller population, just after France and Indonesia. Brazil and Indonesia ranked so highly in this analysis because of carbon dioxide emissions related to deforestation.

    The research team used a new methodology to calculate national contributions to global warming. They weighted each type of emission according to the atmospheric lifetime of the temperature change it caused. Using data from 1750 onward, the team accounted for carbon dioxide contributions from fossil fuel burning and land-use change, along with methane, nitrous oxide and sulphate aerosol emissions.

    Matthews and colleagues also experimented with scaling the emissions to the size of the corresponding area. Western Europe, the U.S., Japan and India are hugely expanded, reflecting emissions much greater than would be expected based on their geographic area. Russia, China and Brazil stay the same. Taken in this light, the climate contributions of Brazil and China don't seem so out of line — they are perfectly in proportion with the countries' landmasses. Using that metric, Canada and Australia become stick thin, their geography is much larger than their share of the global warming pie.

    Dividing each country's climate contribution by its population paints a different picture. Amongst the 20 largest total emitters, developed countries occupy the top seven per-capita positions, with Canada in third place behind the U.K. and the United States even though their per capita electricity usage is higher. Using that ranking, China and India drop to the bottom.

    Their goal was to highlight how much individual countries have contributed to the climate problem, as well as the huge disparity between rich and poor with respect to per-person contributions to global warming. Acknowledging these disparities, and then moving to correct them, may be a fundamental requirement for success in efforts to decrease global greenhouse-gas emissions.


    That's an admirable goal. Current policy efforts, mitigation and rationing, leave poor nations without a comfortable lifestyle while developed nations can simply enjoy the status quo and pay more. Cleaner energy, nuclear and some day solar when it is ready, will make clean, affordable energy attainable for all.



    Comments

    I don't understand why countries of high population are exempt from climate treaties. Developed countries have had lower population increases, and in return have a higher standard of living. Either way, they have high emissions. Shouldn't countries that have overpopulated, and expect the rest of the world to absorb their population spill, be compensating the others?

    Hank
    It's the Shackled Man hypothesis; if Population X is running a race and is 100 yards ahead because Population Y was shackled, taking off the shackles and saying everyone is equal isn't really valid. So environmentalists want to shackle Pop X and let Pop Y run free.

    Obviously they are solving the wrong problem. We should be using Energy N while we develop Energy S, but activists instead want to mitigate and ration Energy C. That is why we would be wise to ignore environmentalists, but they spend so much money on lobbyists and campaign donations that it isn't really possible.
    But how shackled was population Y when their recent ability to actually run is only due to population X's technology? I'm not saying you specifically advocated this idea, but what broadly is the logic of saying that since one side made mistakes in the past, that others should be allowed to do the same (even though what allows them to do that and increase their quality of living so much is their use of pop X's tech)? Are they shackled in the past, or merely given a gift in the present?

    On the issue of nuclear technology, I couldn't agree with you more.

    Hank
    Sure, as you gathered I was explaining the mindset and not endorsing the belief.  America has thousands and thousands of miles of phone lines in rural areas but Brazil is primarily cellular. They clearly benefited from America making phone calls ubiquitous using land lines but we did not recommend they build landlines in order to communicate. So it goes with energy, we want people to have better lives and not be penalized by the kind of 'all energy is bad' rhetoric that dooms them to not have air conditioning while environmental activism corporations create global warming brochures in comfortable offices. That means enabling developing nations to grow their own food and generate their own wealth, which is really just an energy issue in 2014, and a lot smarter than putting donations in boxes and shipping them over.
    Thorium used in MSR's and LFTR's solves the problem. It has enemies: Uranium fission based corporations that make equipment or supply uranium, the entire fossil fuel industry, big government/control freak types because they need problems not solutions, the environmental movement for the same reason. Then you only have Jevon's Paradox to worry about. That will upset the big government/envirowacko crowd as well.

    If one is going to take the time to make this type of comparative analysis shouldn't adjustments be made for exported goods and services? Countries that serve as the factories and producers of the world are going to have a higher pollution (of nearly all types) impact, so shouldn't the responsibility for that lie with the countries (and the people who live there) that import those goods. The US following World War II and China today provide(d) goods for the entire world - developed or not.