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Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 420 -- Carbon & Economy.

Big Economies Produce More CO2 Than Small Economies-

You hear it all the time:

The United States has only 4% of the world's population, but produces 25% of the world's greenhouse gases.

Before we get to the rebuttal, let's establish these facts.

The United States has 4.57% of the world's population. And emits 21.86% of the world's CO2.

Okay, so America has 4.57% of the world's population and emits 21.86% of the world's CO2. A bit different from 4% and 25%.

Now for the rebuttal:

Yeah, but the United States also accounts for 28.33% of the world's economy, 30.3% of the world's airports (far more if we're only counting "real" airports), 19.9% of the world's roads, and 20.3% of the world's railways. It is not the purpose of this post, however, to chronicle the minutiae of American and global greenhouse gas emissions (things like which countries require air conditioning, etc.). So, let's get back to the rebuttal.

America is also doing a better job than the rest of the world at controlling the growth of CO2 emissions, at least during the Bush administration's first four years (the most recent years of data).

Economic output correlates strongly with carbon dioxide output, yet America produces more economic output than CO2 output.

Thus, U.S. carbon emissions really aren't that out of whack.

Now, let's look at various countries, with an original WILLisms.com formula included.

America's carbon/economy ratio is 77.16 (21.86% of the world's carbon dioxide; 28.33% of the world's GDP). Anything under 100 means a country produces more economy than carbon. Anything over 100 means a country produces more carbon than economy. 77.16 is not half bad, in other words.

How does it compare to other countries?

North America-
Canada: 93.16
Mexico: 89.69

South America-
Argentina: 117.87
Brazil: 93.60
Chile: 106.62
Colombia: 90.35
Cuba: 135.35
Dominican Republic: 175.96
Ecuador: 119.64
Venezuela: 166.45

Austria: 38.93
Belgium: 69.26
Czech Republic: 163.12
Denmark: 37.39
Finland: 54.06
France: 32.49
Germany: 52.05
Greece: 82.30
Iceland: 44.31
Ireland: 36.10
Italy: 47.01
Netherlands: 75.18
Norway: 33.71
Poland: 187.00
Portugal: 61.97
Spain: 57.76
Sweden: 27.43
Switzerland: 20.03
Turkey: 101.97
United Kingdom: 42.72
Europe Overall: 54.38

Borat's Kazakhstan: 565.15
Russia: 396.58
Ukraine: 769.27

Asia & Oceania-
Australia: 103.25
China: 323.32
India: 241.18
Japan: 44.34
South Korea: 111.53
New Zealand: 66.02

Okay, so good for France. Bad for a lot of countries, especially the ones that aren't really subject to Kyoto, regardless of whether they have signed and ratified it.

At any rate, here is an informative graph of glacial advance/retreat, over the very, very, very long term, from the Australian Government's Bureau of Meteorology:


In my wholly unscientific judgment, that's sort of a back and forth kind of motion there.

And some more scientific graphs, on climate change, also from the Australian Government:


And a theory that doesn't involve greenhouse gases (.pdf):


Again, I am not a scientist, but...

Maybe there's more to (or less to) climate change than Al Gore (who is a scientist) would have us believe.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Stem Cell Research & Other Funding.

Posted by Will Franklin · 15 February 2007 11:58 PM


I am a big believer in Ruddiman's view that we started affecting the climate 8000 years ago (agriculture) and 5000 years ago (domestication of animals) and thus staved off an Ice Age. We are warming the climate. It is going faster because of burning carbon fuels. It still is no big deal.

Posted by: Assistant Village Idiot at February 16, 2007 04:41 PM

Comment got deleted yesterday, I guess in a spam cleanup.

Read a good anti-global warming debate here yesterday:


dgruss23 offers the argument that in previous warmings, CO2 levels rose after the warming trend. Leading him to the conlcusion that something else was having a much greater forcing effect on the climate. He, too, concluded it was the solar cycle. So why worry so much about CO2 when the sun's changes have a much larger impact and are uncontrollable.

Posted by: John at February 17, 2007 09:42 AM

Sorry about that. Yeah, I did a big spam purge yesterday, so it may have been the victim of my spastic anti-spam machine gun fire.

Posted by: Will Franklin at February 17, 2007 12:24 PM

Here's an exercise for the student: What would the U.S. ratio be if we produced the same proportion of our electricity using nuclear power that France does.

Posted by: profligatewaste at February 18, 2007 05:34 PM

Well, at least Kazakhstan has a flat tax:

Regarding global warming, I spent last week in Spain. Europeans take the trains a lot more of course. The supposedly 5-star hotel I stayed in had the AC shut off for all rooms. My room got a little hot and the front desk just told me to open a window. And of course their cars are smaller than ours (they tax gasoline like maniacs in Europe).

But the US is a lot more spread out so the rail infrastructure is impractical. And we don't want to drive Euro-toy cars. (How safe can those things be?) We don't want to sweat when staying in expensive hotels. And we don't want more taxes because this slows the economy and cedes more power to government.

I wonder too if the European regulatory structure forces more of the polluting industries to move to the developing countries where pollution is tolerated. Just a thought, I have seen no data here.

Posted by: Dan Morgan at February 18, 2007 05:55 PM

Will , you'd love the Milankovich theory too, BTW. Antoher factor that never gets discussed is that if you "stop global CO2" emmisions, yet the erath is still warming then what have you accomplished. Besides, God knows the problem is too complex to let the UN propose global cooling measures. Soon, we'll have the Kofi Annan "open your fridge" day.

Posted by: Rob B. at February 21, 2007 03:39 PM

The scale is a little missleading on the Recent Climate Trends graph, as it looks like the line smooths out and steadily climbs, but the gap is only 100 years, as compared to the 900 year gap preceeding it. The last 100 year is just a blip.

Posted by: Rodney Dill at February 24, 2007 09:06 AM