Per Capita Carbon Emissions
Global per Capita Carbon Emissions and Why They Matter
Tim Purcell | Lykeion
This is NOT intended to be another nuclear rant… though it will likely end up there... somehow.
When it comes to clean energy production, we hear a lot of headlines about:
1) The West not doing enough to lower their global emissions, and
2) The Emerging world, (mostly China, as the US has deemed them enemy #1 at the moment) still using dirty sources of fuel, primarily coal.
The West points East to place blame, and the East shrugs it off, and for good reason – coal is cheap, abundant, and they have billions of people they’re trying to pull out of abject poverty, which doesn’t happen without large quantities of energy.
The second assertion, while true, fails to recognize and appreciate that the focus of the emerging world is first and foremost on improving their living standards with global warming a distant thought for most. And we aren’t knocking them for this; what’s more important to a nation's ascent out of poverty, carbon emissions or infant mortality rates, malnutrition, access to educational technologies, etc.?
Depicted in the chart above is a selection of countries from the West and Emerging economies, ranked by CO2 output. Implicit here is the fact that as economies develop, per capita carbon consumption rises as more and more luxuries of the modern world are consumed (think air conditioning, automobiles, and meat).
Here are some facts, not opinions:
1) As the Emerging world catches up to the developed world in terms of purchasing power, they WILL consume more of these goods, which WILL lead to higher energy consumption, and
2) Given their energy sources are mostly ‘dirty’, per capita carbon emissions WILL increase.
3) Because the majority of the global population lives in Emerging economies, global nominal carbon emissions WILL increase as a direct consequence of the improvement in global living standards.
Anyone in the West who claims these economies ‘need to play by the rules’ are delusional at best, or incredibly privileged and unaware at worst. The West has been indulging in these luxuries for decades and for the most part using ‘dirty’ energy to produce them. To now look at these developing countries and shame them for enjoying the same luxuries we do and now take for granted, takes a special kind of hypocrite.
The West is scrambling to virtue signal a ‘renewable’ future course of action by utilizing wind and solar (looking at you Germany), while completely ignoring
1) the vast amounts of fossil fuels required to produce these types of energy sources (windmills require an incredible amount of steel, iron, copper and other resources to be dug out of the earth, and PV cells use larges quantities of gas to heat silicon to form into a final product)
2) the recurrent need for fossil fuel base loads (see natural gas prices hockey stick price chart for reference), or
3) worse, the increased energy imports of ‘dirty’ energy sources that don’t count against their ‘dirty’ production quotas.
Parallel to all this madness, an answer is staring at us straight in the face, and we’re simply too woke, too politicized, and too ignorant, to give it its due.
By progressing towards a nuclear-powered future, we can significantly course-correct global emissions while simultaneously eliminating the imperialistic wars for resources (uranium production is global, not as concentrated as oil).
With an abundance of clean, almost infinitely renewable energy that works around the clock, trillions of dollars could be saved in defense spending that could instead be reallocated to real, actual, humanistic growth endeavors, as opposed to yet another fleet of aircraft carriers and a Space Force… seriously.
The power of the sun sits at our fingertips (ok not technically, but basically), but as of today, instead of enjoying an almost infinite clean energy future, we’d rather point fingers across the aisle and let lobbyists and politicians continue to amass power through misinformation and fearmongering.
Remember, mass psychosis doesn’t work without two key ingredients: confusion and fear.
To the environmental activists out there, and I mean the ones who’re really trying to make a difference (not just stuff their Instagram stories with biased documentaries and Greta Thunberg quotes), it’s time to begin focusing on the ONLY course of action that actually fixes the problem, as opposed to the ones that kind of fix the problem but photograph well for IG feeds (I’ll admit, nuclear reactors, even with the best filters, are not as insta-worthy as a windmill farm set to the backdrop of a Dutch tulip field).
Please go read last month’s Charts of the Month and those reactors may begin to look a lot sexier.
Told you this wouldn’t be a nuclear rant 😉
Larry McDonald | The Bear Traps Report
Per capita data is meaningless in a "crisis."
There are 2.8 billion people in India and China, two countries where energy consumption growth is 5x that of Europe and heavily addicted to coal. Despite that, all of the net zero 2050-2070 assumptions include negative per capita energy growth globally.