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Who Drives Climate Change?


Green Lifestyle  (tags: babies, children, CO2emissions, ecosystems, environment, globalwarming, humans, over-population, society )

Kit
- 774 days ago - motherjones.com
The authors note know that for every 1 percent increase in human population, greenhouse gas emissions go up by slightly more than 1 percent. But which aspects of human life contribute most--more people, more consumption, or both--and how might that play-->



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Kit B. (277)
Wednesday June 13, 2012, 11:01 am


A new paper in the journal Nature Climate Change assesses which human factors are the most important drivers of greenhouse gas emissions.

The authors note know that for every 1 percent increase in human population, greenhouse gas emissions go up by slightly more than 1 percent. But which aspects of human life contribute most—more people, more consumption, or both—and how might that play out in a world racing towards 10 billion people this century? (I wrote at length about this concern in Mother Jones' The Last Taboo.)

The biggest question is whether or not affluence will ever mitigate its own consumption. The authors write:

Ultimately, most releases of greenhouse gases are driven by consumption of goods and services by individuals, households and organizations, and the manufacturing, transport and waste disposal that underpins that consumption... It is possible that the composition of consumption might shift from current patterns to more benign ones, as might the technologies supporting manufacturing, transport and waste disposal. Indeed, many policies seek to encourage such changes.

***See global map of population distrubtion ***

A new paper in the journal Nature Climate Change assesses which human factors are the most important drivers of greenhouse gas emissions.

The authors note know that for every 1 percent increase in human population, greenhouse gas emissions go up by slightly more than 1 percent. But which aspects of human life contribute most—more people, more consumption, or both—and how might that play out in a world racing towards 10 billion people this century? (I wrote at length about this concern in Mother Jones' The Last Taboo.)

The biggest question is whether or not affluence will ever mitigate its own consumption. The authors write:

Ultimately, most releases of greenhouse gases are driven by consumption of goods and services by individuals, households and organizations, and the manufacturing, transport and waste disposal that underpins that consumption... It is possible that the composition of consumption might shift from current patterns to more benign ones, as might the technologies supporting manufacturing, transport and waste disposal. Indeed, many policies seek to encourage such changes.

***See chart ***

More in the numbers-versus-consumption debate:

■Affluence can both increase and decease emissions—increase through overall consumption, decrease by policies that seek to mitigate environmental damage to the environment—though it's not clear if decreases ever outweighs increases.

■The argument by some scholars that affluence beyond a certain threshold—known as the environmental Kuznets curve (above)—leads to declining stress on the environment does not appear to hold true for greenhouse-gas emissions.

■Cities generate substantial demand for goods and services that induce emissions in distant places—a process called "metabolic rift"—which therefore may not truly reduce their emissions, as some studies suggest.

■The effects of global trade on greenhouse-gas emissions are nuanced—some environmental policies may be imported alongside transnational business, yet emissions are transferred from the rich world to the poor too.

■Forms of governance (democratic versus non-democratic) are not significant predictors of greenhouse-gas emissions.


***See: Global map of Prevailing world religions ****

Interesting assumptions that lack adequate data to either confirm or dispute, including:

■Women's political empowerment leads to amelioration of greenhouse-gas emissions (not clear from data).

■High levels of militarization are antithetical to environmental protection (some data suggest yes).

■Different world religions differ in their regard for the environment, which influences greenhouse gas emissions (unsure).

■Nations with strong environmental movements adopt public policies and private practices that actually reduce emissions (uncertain).


The authors conclude:

Concern with the magnitude of population and economic growth has led to renewed calls to slow population growth as well as to questions about the relationship between affluence and societal health and well-being. However, in a time of global recession with intensified demands for economic growth, and with waxing concern about how elderly populations can be supported in low-fertility nations that have a high dependency ratio, such reconceptualizations of basic societal goals face a struggle. Nonetheless, it is clear that reducing emissions of greenhouse gases in the face of scale growth will not occur in the context of the institutional, political and cultural forces that have prevailed so far.

The paper:

■Eugene A. Rosa & Thomas Dietz. Human drivers of national greenhouse-gas emissions. Nature Climate Change. doi:10.1038/nclimate1506


 

Brian M. (145)
Wednesday June 13, 2012, 12:24 pm
People drive climate change, but some people drive it more than others. The US, for example, makes up 5% of the total human population yet is the single largest producer of climate change gases. We emit far more gases than the rest of the planet put together. Maybe we should change our nation before we start preaching from our pulpit of faux moral superiority and telling other nations what to do.
 

Craig Pittman (45)
Wednesday June 13, 2012, 5:49 pm
So really it has more to do about us than them.
 

Robert O. (12)
Wednesday June 13, 2012, 6:29 pm
Thanks Kit.
 

Chi Warrior (3414)
Wednesday June 13, 2012, 7:19 pm
Welcome to the solar hydrogen economy via The Phoenix Hydrogen Co-op

which of the following global problems do you think is most pressing
climate change
peak oil
or both

Climate change is a state of play where the earth's climate is suppose to be heating up. In summer it seem's to be global warming and in winter it seem's to be global cooling. Some scientists say it is real and some scientists say it is full of shit

peak oil is where we have already used the first 50% of world crude oil supplies, which happen some time between 2000 and 2010. And now we are on the downhill slide towards the end of crude oil and a end of gasoline and diesel

there is a solution to both of these's problems and that solution is the solar hydrogen economy.

The Phoenix Hydrogen Co-op is a not for profit movement to build the solar hydrogen economy, which is build on the energy transformation. Of sunshine in the Australian desert into electricity via solar panels and using this solar electricity to split sea water into the elements of hydrogen and oxygen. We can release the oxygen into the atmosphere and store the hydrogen as fuel

Solar Hydrogen Gas has three times the energy content when compared with fossil fuel on a kilogram per kilogram bases or a pound for pound ratio.

Solar Hydrogen Gas combusts into fresh water when reacted with oxygen in a internal combustion engine or in a fuel cell
 

John B. (215)
Wednesday June 13, 2012, 8:10 pm
Thanks Kit for posting the article. A very good read with some interesting conclusions
 

Monica D. (580)
Wednesday June 13, 2012, 8:35 pm
Eat less meat, go car-free if you can, ... to reduce climate changing emissions.
 

Christeen Anderson (479)
Thursday June 14, 2012, 12:36 pm
We do of course. We can change alot of things that we do on a regular basis to help this crisis out.
 

Terry V. (30)
Thursday June 14, 2012, 1:28 pm
noted thanks
 

Mindy P. (16)
Thursday June 14, 2012, 2:27 pm
interesting article. thanks for posting it
 

Gene Jacobson (246)
Thursday June 14, 2012, 3:12 pm
"The biggest question is whether or not affluence will ever mitigate its own consumption."

If this is a key question,and I think it is, and also a large part of the solution, and I think it is, then we are in deep trouble. The wealthiest and highest consuming nation is our own. And given what is happening in domestic politics and the unbridled flow of money into regressive politics and policies in completely self-absorbed, self-interest on the part of the 1%, I don't see them ever ceding a nickel to anything other than their own gratification. We have no statespersons anymore, no politician willing or capable of looking 50 years down the road and seeing issues that need resolution or attention and then crafting legislation to accomplish those for the greater good projects. Our current crop are capable only of looking as far as the next election and if it doesn't help them get re-elected, they won't even consider it. It cannot be in the greater good to make the planet uninhabitable but our elite are hellbent on doing that very thing. They won't live to see the consequences of their shortsightedness, but their grandchildren and great grandchildren, and ours, are the ones who will pay the ultimate price for their folly. No one but the powerless cares about the greater good anymore. It is a sad time in history and an extremely dangerous time as well. And we fiddle while earth burns...
 

Florence Eaise (132)
Thursday June 14, 2012, 5:14 pm
GREAT ARTICLE KIT!!! I loved it and agree we are the problem!! thanks again for another informative article
 

Mariette G. (147)
Friday June 15, 2012, 2:41 pm
Thanks for a great article Kit!
 

William K. (328)
Monday June 18, 2012, 9:38 pm
Affluence is the greatest driver of climate change, although the rising affluence of populous countries such as India and China are cause for some concern.

Ecological Footprint analysis shows that in order to maintain our current levels of global consumption sustainably, that we would need roughly three planets to do so. It is highly unlikely that the affluent will ever be able to mitigate their consumption given this information. We would need to completely redefine our concepts of "affluence" in order for this to happen.
 
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