Carbon Folly

Carbon Folly

My first book on the CO2 issue, Carbon Folly, was published in 2008. It was remarkably prescient.

It did not, however, predict the decline in the use of coal as the result of EPA regulations under the Obama administration. As a result of the EPA regulations, CO2 emissions declined slightly over the past several years.

However, the basic source of CO2 emissions remain as they were in 2004.

Generating electricity accounted for 39% of CO2 emissions in 2004, while gasoline accounted for 20%. Industry accounted for 18%. Transportation, other than gasoline, accounted for 13%. Residential and commercial accounted for 10%.

In addition, the effects of cutting CO2 emissions 80% didn’t change either.

The accompanying table from Carbon Folly shows how cutting CO2 emissions 80% by 2050 would cripple the US economy and send Americans back to living as they did in the 1800s.

The futility of attempting to cut CO2 emissions 80% can be illustrated by examining a few of the largest sources of CO2 emissions. 

While battery-powered vehicles (BEVs) might cut the use of gasoline, those emissions would be replaced to a large extent by increasing the emissions from generating the electricity required for charging batteries.

Emissions from transportation are largely from airplanes and trucks. Airplane emissions are forecast to increase as there is no realistic substitute for jet fuel and the world’s airways are set to expand as populations in Asia and Africa increase.

The idea that wind and solar can provide all of the electricity needed by Americans is a pipe dream. Not even Germany, the country that has pushed wind and solar the hardest, can get rid of coal or been able to replace even 25% of its electricity with wind and solar.

Wind and solar account for 22% of Germany’s electricity in 2017, while coal accounts for 36%.

But the chart that is most disturbing is the chart showing China’s emissions.

Chart from Watts Up With That by Hoskins

China already emits twice as much CO2 as the United States and could emit 2.5 to 3 times the emissions of the United States by 2030. (MIT estimates China’s emissions at 13,000 MMT in 2030.)

In other words, the United States could eliminate 100% of its CO2 emissions and it would accomplish nothing because China’s emissions would have replaced them.

It was obvious in 2008 when Carbon Folly was first published, that the United States would have to destroy its economy and standard of living if it tried to cut its CO2 emissions 80%.

Now, assuming CO2 emissions are responsible for AGW, it’s also obvious that the United States would have accomplished nothing by destroying its economy since other countries, especially China, would have replaced all of the CO2 emissions eliminated by the U.S.

Attempting to cut C02 emissions is worse than a fool’s errand, because it will destroy our standard of living and prevent billions of people around the world to escape poverty.

. . .

6 Replies to “Carbon Folly”

  1. Your Table II data analysis only covers CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels. In 2004, only ~57% of World CO2 emissions was from burning fossil fuel, and most of the rest derived from land use practices (e.g., agriculture, burning forests, husbandry, etc.). Land use emissions (both CO2 and CH4) comprise a smaller fraction of US emissions, and both have generally decreased since early 1990s.

    • I focus on CO2 emissions because that’s what the AGW crowd focuses on. They seldom comment on non-fossil fuel issues. Even with Methane CH4, they relate them to the development and transmission of natural gas, a fossil fuel. Europe, for example, has built its entire climate change campaign on stopping the use of fossil fuels. Once in a while, some group mentions methane or other emissions from agriculture, husbandry etc. I recall that New Zealand, for example, focused on sheep when it signed onto the Kyoto protocol.
      I also try to use the most reliable data that’s available. Again, the US, for the most part, has the best data. Europe has good data also. Unfortunately, the US data on temperatures has been severely compromised during the Obama administration and is now totally unreliable.
      Thanks for pointing out that much of the GHG from around the world are other than CO2 or come from other than fossil fuels. But the threat is the attack on fossil fuels, and it’s that threat that needs to be defended against.

  2. I thought “carbon folly” was the idea that carbon abatement was foolish and a waste of taxpayer money and resources because Co2 responds to temperature rather than drives it, and that driving Co2 down will not effect temperature and must be kept above 150 ppm for man to survive. Guess I’ll have to get your reports to re-educate myself.

Leave a Reply