Environmentalist finds CO2 rises faster in good times than it falls in bad

Oct 08, 2012 by Bob Yirka report
Estimated effect of annual growth in GDP per capita on growth in CO2 emissions per capita. Credit: (c) Nature Climate Change (2012) doi:10.1038/nclimate1699

(Phys.org)—Richard York, a researcher with the Department of Sociology and Environmental Studies Program at the University of Oregon, has found that a measured reduction in CO2 emissions during economic downturns is not on par with the increase in CO2 emissions that is apparent during boon times. York made this discovery after analyzing the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of several nations during the period 1960 to 2008, and then comparing these values with the countries' corresponding annual measures of CO2 emissions. The results are published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Conventional thinking held that will tumble at the same rate as they rise depending on economic conditions. York wasn't convinced: accordingly, he decided to study the ups and downs of the economies of 150 of the world's major countries over the course of nearly a half century. He then compared each country's GDP and carbon emission measures over time. What he found was that, on average, CO2 emissions rose by 0.73 percent for every 1 percent rise in GDP during economically prosperous times, but fell just 0.43 percent for every 1 percent fall in GDP during economically depressed periods , indicating that greenhouse gasses fall at roughly half the rate that they rise.

York has a theory regarding this observed phenomenon— CO2 are partly based on a country's economic and infrastructure history. If a country builds factories, cars and roads during strong , this infrastructure and machinery will still be there when the economy experiences a dip. And, while the new assets may be used less during difficult times, there is very little chance they won't be used at all. Therefore, , while somewhat decreased, will never return to their pre-development levels.

York's findings are likely to dampen one of the few bright spots surrounding the economic malaise currently impacting many countries, particularly Europe. The hope—that slow economic growth was decreasing the amount of CO2 being added to the atmosphere, thereby minimizing global warming, and as some have suggested, weather volatility—may be little more than wishful thinking.

York concludes by suggesting that, based on his results, governments worldwide will likely need to rethink their predictions regarding CO2 emissions. This might be particularly true for those countries that set their goals based on assumptions made at the 2009 Copenhagen summit, which focused on nations working together to combat the problems of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, and which was organized around conventional theories of CO2 emissions in developed and developing nations.

Explore further: MEPs back plans to slash use of plastic shopping bags

More information: Asymmetric effects of economic growth and decline on CO2 emissions, Nature Climate Change (2012) doi:10.1038/nclimate1699 (FREE article)


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marble89
2.1 / 5 (7) Oct 08, 2012
I cringed when I read this article. It is so self evident. This kind of "research" is perfect ammunition for the anti-soft science crowd and will be used as a text book example of the fat and waste in government and academia.

As ALMOST ANY business owner will tell you ... When business slows down you don't just throw away all the investments you've made in your employees by firing them. Only as a last resort do you fire your staff. You keep them busy which in turn keeps business processes( and the CO2 they emit) from slowing as fast as the economy at large. More simply put: inventories tend to go up when business begins to slow down b
Shootist
2 / 5 (8) Oct 08, 2012
Observer of humanity finds a sucker is born every minute.
ScooterG
1.4 / 5 (10) Oct 08, 2012
I cringed when I read this article. It is so self evident. This kind of "research" is perfect ammunition for the anti-soft science crowd and will be used as a text book example of the fat and waste in government and academia.

As ALMOST ANY business owner will tell you ... When business slows down you don't just throw away all the investments you've made in your employees by firing them. Only as a last resort do you fire your staff. You keep them busy which in turn keeps business processes( and the CO2 they emit) from slowing as fast as the economy at large. More simply put: inventories tend to go up when business begins to slow down b


You are correct.

The American public knows nothing about business. If they did, they'd all be Amway distributors.
axemaster
4 / 5 (4) Oct 08, 2012
Actually this kind of research is entirely worthwhile - while you may be able to infer that this effect would happen, this study quantifies exactly how big it is.
Lino235
3 / 5 (8) Oct 08, 2012
Here's another theory: CO2 rise is driven by non-anthropic forces, so, when the business cycle fails, CO2 continues to rise even though energy consumption falls.

This is a more sensible analysis. Why? Because despite everything still "being used" during downturns, what characterizes a "downturn" is LESS usage, which is equivalent to less energy being used.

But, as usual, political ideology trumps everything and blinds the alarmists.
marble89
2.6 / 5 (5) Oct 08, 2012
Worthwhile to whom ? Do you think a bunch of climate scientists suggested this study ? Look at their graph. The MAXIMUM potential effect is the difference between the dotted and solid line. You can see that it might cause at most a 1% short term blip in emissions. This is insignificant compared to the dozens of other far more important parameters that influence CO2 levels in the atmosphere. In addition, it is self canceling on relatively short time scales and will have little if any impact in the longer term.

Climate Science is an important area of research. Thus, It is much easier to get funding when you can figure out a way to put "CO2" in your proposal title.When the average Joe sees an article like this he/she thinks "I know from my everyday experience that this is a crock, I wonder if all that other climate stuff I read about is as well"
marble89
2 / 5 (8) Oct 08, 2012
Also , as we have just seen in this thread, and have seen in every physorg article with the word "Climate" or "CO2", the anti-science people are on here 24/7 ready to pounce. Stuff like this makes them drool.
ScooterG
2.2 / 5 (13) Oct 08, 2012
Also , as we have just seen in this thread, and have seen in every physorg article with the word "Climate" or "CO2", the anti-science people are on here 24/7 ready to pounce. Stuff like this makes them drool.


This is listed as a Richard York area of interest:

"assessing the anthropogenic driving forces of global environmental change"
http://sociology....york.php

---

It's not that agw-deniers are anti-science, we're just anti bogus science. This guy (York) has a stated prejudice that taints his research.

If I were to cite anti-agw research funded/conducted by The World Coal Association (for example), I'd be laughed off this website. Environmentalism, and AGW in particular, is the only area of science where non-credible "research" is 1) allowed and 2) encouraged and applauded.
ValeriaT
2.6 / 5 (5) Oct 08, 2012
Conventional thinking held that greenhouse gas emissions will tumble at the same rate as they rise depending on economic conditions
But the size of human civilization grows steadily. Even if we would get poorer per capita, the production of carbon dioxide will still increase. This isn't conventional thinking?
ScooterG
1.4 / 5 (10) Oct 08, 2012
Oh...I forgot to mention...Richard York also teaches "research methods".

Hahahahahahahahahaha!
eachus
1 / 5 (1) Oct 08, 2012
The hope—that slow economic growth was decreasing the amount of CO2 being added to the atmosphere, thereby minimizing global warming, and as some have suggested, weather volatility—may be little more than wishful thinking.


Sigh! Graph reading is apparently a lost art, at least as far as the author of this article is concerned. Note that (according to this chart) at 2% economic growth, the growth in CO2 levels is zero. Or, if you prefer, that at zero economic growth CO2 levels is about -1 1/2%. Further, this is per capita growth, so a country can have a small increase in per capita (and net) GDP growth and a growing population and still have a falling CO2 emission level.

Is this correct? Sort of. Especially in Africa, you can have a huge increase in GDP with negative CO2 growth--by replacing cooking and heating with wood stoves or fires with just about any other energy source. Solar is great, but even coal (ugh!) works. (All those trees that don't get cut down.)
ScooterG
1 / 5 (5) Oct 08, 2012
@ marble89:

Even though you are pro-AGW, at least you have the honesty and decency to call a spade a spade. If the entire environmental movement would follow your example, we could all work together and solve a lot of problems in this world. My hat's off to you.
marble89
1 / 5 (1) Oct 08, 2012
@ScooterG
Your last comment is appreciated and has a lot of merrit. But as I have stated elsewhere
"I have no dog in this fight" so please do not stick a label on me
(what does AGW stand for ?)
Oil and Gas seismic exploration, spectroscopy, radiative transfer are my areas of expertise. ALL in the private sector.
ScooterG: Rather than pollute this thread with unrelated stuff I've sent you a PM around mid-day Oct 8. Did you get it ?

marble89
1 / 5 (2) Oct 09, 2012
@ScooterG
Your last comment is appreciated and has a lot of merrit. But as stated elsewhere
"I have no dog in this fight" so please do not stick a label on me
(what does AGW stand for ?)
Oil and Gas seismic exploration, spectroscopy, radiative transfer are my areas of expertise. ALL in the private sector.
ScooterG: Rather than pollute this thread with unrelated stuff I've sent you a PM around mid-day Oct 8. Did you get it ?

JoeBlue
1 / 5 (4) Oct 09, 2012
The problem is that GDP does not represent actual growth in the economy. I'll be the last to point out that Scientists of the Physics variety really do not know jack shit about economics. Then again most of the actual Economists out there know jack shit about economics.

Before anyone get's their underwear in a bunch, my primary degree is in Econ, my secondary degree is in Physics.

AGW has not shown anyone that it's even a reality yet, the supporters of it have no real evidence.

A growth in GDP is always miscalculated as the end result doesn't matter for regional differences, as the differences are made up elsewhere in the economy. GDP growth often is a better measure of Inflation or the expansion of currency supply more than anything. Actual productivity and it's increases can only be measured through a spectrum of indices, and even that is a rough estimate. This measure of productivity indices has been relatively flat worldwide since the mid-70's BTW.
JoeBlue
1 / 5 (4) Oct 09, 2012
I guess I should have just came out and pointed out the obvious, to me at least, this study is bullshit. It was done on a faulty premise, they used faulty metrics, and their conclusion has more political implications than actual scientific ones.

If one were willing to actually take into full effect and thought of the implications here, it's obvious that this is more of a directed hint at population growth than anything.
marble89
1.3 / 5 (3) Oct 09, 2012
"AGW has not shown anyone that it's even a reality yet, the supporters of it have no real evidence."

You are probably correct here, but whether we can find a signal for it or not in historical data is completely moot. Here is an indisputable fact as simple and profound as E=mc2: Increasing the concentration of tri-atomic ( and bigger) molecules in a planetary atmosphere WILL trap energy within that atmosphere. (Notice I use the word energy)

Sooner or later this added energy will have an impact on our lives.
Lurker2358
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 09, 2012
Here's another theory: CO2 rise is driven by non-anthropic forces, so, when the business cycle fails, CO2 continues to rise even though energy consumption falls.


People still use automobiles and coal whenever business is down.

What you don't understand is humans make 6PPM equivalent of CO2 every year, so a 5 to 10% market fluctuation only makes a 0.3 to 0.6PPM different in the GROSS.

If you back out the ~4PPM nature absorbs, then you are still left with a net gain of 1.4 to 1.7PPM CO2 per year, even during a weak economy.
ScooterG
1 / 5 (3) Oct 09, 2012
@marble89, I got your pm and have replied.
rubberman
3 / 5 (4) Oct 10, 2012
"AGW has not shown anyone that it's even a reality yet, the supporters of it have no real evidence."

You are probably correct here, but whether we can find a signal for it or not in historical data is completely moot. Here is an indisputable fact as simple and profound as E=mc2: Increasing the concentration of tri-atomic ( and bigger) molecules in a planetary atmosphere WILL trap energy within that atmosphere. (Notice I use the word energy)

Sooner or later this added energy will have an impact on our lives.


Who would have thought that physics would play a relevant part of climate science? As marble states, you cannot add energy to a system without it manifesting itself in some way, this will happen whether anybody makes money from it or not.
TechnoCore
1 / 5 (3) Oct 13, 2012
What kind of crap headline is this? "Environmentalist finds CO2 bla bla bla". Where does it say it the article that the researcher is an "Environmentalist". And do I care? No. The reasearch will speak for it self. Don't try to push down your agenda in my throat whatever its is.

Thanks, TC.
VendicarD
3 / 5 (2) Oct 13, 2012
"Richard York is a researcher with the Department of Sociology and Environmental Studies Program at the University of Oregon.

What kind of crap..." - FoofieTard

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