A good year for CO2 in 2006

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Just released: new DOE figures showing that the US has reduced CO2 production 1.5% last year in 2006, even without the US signing on to Kyoto.  You can read the full report here (Adobe PDF file).

 Here are some of the numbers for 2006:

• Total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2006 were 1.5 percent below the 2005 total—the first annual drop since 2001 and only the third since 1990.

• The total emissions reduction, from 7,181.4 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) in 2005 to 7,075.6 MMTCO2e in 2006, was largely a result of reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. There were smaller reductions in emissions of methane (CH4) and man-made gases with high global warming potentials (high-GWP gases)

• U.S. carbon dioxide emissions in 2006 were 110.6 million metric tons (MMT) below their 2005 level of 6,045.0 MMT, due to favorable weather conditions; higher energy prices; a decline in the carbon intensity of electric power generation that resulted from increased use of natural gas, the least carbon intensive fossil fuel; and greater reliance on non-fossil energy sources.

Despite my stance on the measurement and interpretation errors associated with the surface temperature record, I’ve always felt that reducing pollution is a good thing. At the same time I’ve always felt that our environmental movement is too often focused on panic driven ideas.

Coupled with the news about the 2007 hurricane season being very low in my post below, I believe we’ve seen evidence that things aren’t all they are claimed to be, particularly by Gore. I think the best approach overall is to not panic, and to work on alternate energy solutions and better efficiency as a way to wean ourselves from foreign oil. The key here is slow change. It took us 100 years to get to this point, it will probably take us at least half that to reverse the trends in a sensible way with new technology.

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8 thoughts on “A good year for CO2 in 2006

  1. CO2 can scarcely be categorized as a pollutant! Without abundant CO2, human life would disappear in short order. Crop yields are at record highs today. There is a high probability that if you investigated the measurement of carbon dioxide emission, you would find the same deficiencies (systematic dishonesty) you do in temperature metrology (and thank you very much for it!) However, it is plausible that higher energy costs should certainly be a heavily weighted suspect in reducing carbon dioxide emission in ths short term. With all we know about climate today, which is not much, I submit we do not know for sure that the reduction in carbon dioxide emission is even a desireable climatological tactic. In any case, extended voluntary reduction per se of carbon dioxide emissions in the World is an implausible event. Perhaps we should increase low cloud formation, to reduce carbon dioxide by oceanic sequestration! The human starvation would be prohibitive, however. Or do greens care?

  2. I’m with you that we do need to be cleaner and more efficient in our energy use, and I think “panic driven ideas” are likely to cause as many problems as they solve. It’s good to know that the US’s emissions actually fell last year. Thanks for posting this. I haven’t seen anything in the news about it.
    Speaking of panic, Oxfam put out this news release the other day, stating that “Natural disasters have quadrupled over the last two decades, from an average of 120 a year in the early 1980s to as many as 500 today…”, which they attribute to AGW. This is of course aimed at the Bali conference.
    Quadrupled? I’ve only had time this morning to skim their paper, but they do admit in the notes that some of this could be due to improved reporting.
    http://www.oxfam.org.uk/resources/policy/climate_change/bp108_weather_alert.html

  3. There are two identical bottles sitting on the shelf. Both are filled with air. If I were to add 100 ppm co2 to one bottle, then stick them both in the sun, would the enhanced co2 bottle’s air warm up faster? To a higher temperature?
    If I left them out there until nightfall, would the co2 bottle’s contents cool more slowly?
    Is this a valid test of the AGW theory?

  4. CO2 is not “polution”, so the its reduction should not be considered reduction in “polution”. But I do agree with you that results that is not government driven that made the change in the environment is good.
    What impressed me here is that US is always being accused by those who signed the Kyoto Protocol as “doing nothing”. The truth is that US has reduced CO2 while the economy grew. The same can not be said about most of the countries that signed Kyoto.
    I’ve referenced your article at my blog site aimed to the Japanese audience. Please keep up the good work!

  5. That CO2 emissions decrease is good for the environment, not because CO2 is a pollutant but because all the real pollutants will be reduced in line with CO2. In the midst of a reasonable anger on media scarestories, we should not forget that burning fossile fuel is linked to various environmental and geopolitical problems, and that phasing out fossile fuel would be great for a whole range of reasons. Lets just do it in a reasonable fashion…

  6. At some point, the cheap and easy fossil fuel will start to become scarce. Couple that with the fact that the current UN estimates are that world population peaks in 2050 (and consider how much the UN has historically overestimated natural growth rates, 2050 will likely be after the peak). So, even with or without Kyoto or Bali, CO2 emissions are going to eventually be going down world wide.
    Now, here is some food for deep thought. Look at the ensemble of estimated CO2 concentration records reflecting the past 500 M years. When you view it at that scale, it is apparent that we are near the probable all time low values. At best, we are a couple or three hundred PPM above all time low values. Not if but likely, when, the long term decline that has been going on now for tens of millions of years, resumes, where will it lead, and what will it do to the biosphere?
    I hear that fungus really thrive on the detritus of organisms that cannot remain viable below 150 PPM of atmospheric CO2. The good news is, once the fungus liberate CO2 (and CH4) from the detritus, and, the inevitable massive erosion sets in after all those green plants die off, it will spike the CO2 level and the biosphere may rise like a phoenix from the ashes.

  7. That CO2 emissions decrease is good for the environment, not because CO2 is a pollutant but because all the real pollutants will be reduced in line with CO2. In the midst of a reasonable anger on media scarestories, we should not forget that burning fossile fuel is linked to various environmental and geopolitical problems, and that phasing out fossile fuel would be great for a whole range of reasons. Lets just do it in a reasonable fashion…

    Then why are we going after CO2 again? Let’s go after those other reasons and forget about CO2.
    Burning of fossil fuels has become cleaner and cleaner, there’s no danger in continuing to burn them. The only real dangers are monopolies and eco-hysteria.

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