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Even a global recession hasn't slowed CO2 growth

27 May 2020 | Science Notes

We said in our videos on why the Paris Accord is doomed (Part I and Part II) that one of the key reasons why Paris, like Kyoto before it, is doomed to disappoint its backers is that even if everyone fully complies with their promises (which they won’t) despite the costs being staggeringly high (which they are), it won’t make a bit of difference to the global climate because atmospheric CO2 levels will continue to rise at pretty much the same rate. In case anyone was thinking we were just being overly pessimistic, the current economic crash due to COVID-19 provides some compelling evidence. According to an analysis by climatologist Dr. Roy Spencer, even though global emissions are down by about 11 percent as a result of the recession, this change is too small to show up in the global atmospheric CO2 level data, which are dominated by large natural fluctuations. The emission reduction would need to be about four times larger, and last a lot longer, to flatten the curve, so to speak.

As we explained in our Paris Accord videos, CO2 is not like an ordinary air-pollution issue, where if you cut annual emissions, the local concentration of the pollutant drops right along with it. The atmospheric CO2 level is controlled by a vast, slow-moving system, of which anthropogenic emissions are only a small part. The current global economic slowdown is allowing us to see just how small a part we really are.

Which brings home another important point: Reaching the kinds of outcomes the global-warming activists have in mind will involve far larger social and economic sacrifices than they have been prepared to talk about. Referring to the 11% global-emission reduction, and the size of the economic downturn needed to reach it, Spencer notes that it “illustrates how dependent humanity is on energy, since the economic disruption is leading to U.S. unemployment rates not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Everything that humans do requires access to abundant and affordable energy, and even the current economic downturn is not enough to substantially reduce global CO2 emissions.”

So if the strategy of alarmists has once again been shown to be too costly and entirely ineffective, why is that their only suggestion is that we double down on it?

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