Emissions figures are in million tons of carbon; for tons of CO2, multiply by 44/12. Source: Compiled by Earth Policy Institute with 1950-1993 from “Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Energy Consumption by Source, 1949-2011,” Table 11.1 in U.S. (Brian McGill)Between 2007 and 2011, the amount of carbon dioxide the United States spewed into the air decreased by 2 million tons, or 11 percent. Accounting for part of the decrease, explains the Earth Policy Institute, is the recession. When the economy slows, carbon emissions slow with it. But our habits have changed as well, and in the past few years America really has gotten “greener.”
Cars have become more efficient, and emissions from oil are down about 100 million tons since the middle of the last decade. We’re also driving less — national miles driven peaked in 2007. Now, the Earth Policy Institute explains, “more cars stay parked because more people live in urban areas, opt for public transit, work remotely, or retire and thus no longer commute to work.” Factor in the decline of coal power, and the small but significant rise of wind energy, and the U.S. is 11 percent greener than it was just a few years ago.
And this happened, more or less, without a concerted federal effort. “U.S. carbon emissions have declined at an impressive rate given the absence of any cohesive federal climate-change policy,” the Yale Forum on Climate Change explains. “The U.S. has actually managed to make significant progress toward its long-abandoned Kyoto Protocol target to reduce emissions 7 percent below 1990 levels.”
Granted, even though the levels have dropped, carbon dioxide continues to accumulate in the atmosphere. There is certainly more CO2 in the air today than there was in 2007 (and while the U.S. is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions — about 16 percent — it certainly isn’t the only one).
But this is a promising trend considering recent research from the journal Nature that predicts when climate change will have fundamentally altered local climates. The study spells out two diverging scenarios for Earth. One is business as usual, in which cities like Washington and New York will have a radically altered climate (diverging from long-historical norms) by 2047. But if we significantly reduce the amount of carbon emissions, that date could stretch to 2072.
The developed nations of the world will have to lead the way, the report concludes, as the first countries to feel the impacts of climate change will be poorer nations in tropical climates. The authors write:
… any progress to decrease the rate of ongoing climate change will require a bigger commitment from developed countries to decrease their emissions but will also require more extensive funding of social and conservation programs in developing countries to minimize the impacts of climate change. Our results on the projected timing of climate departure from recent variability shed light on the urgency of mitigating greenhouse-gas emissions if widespread changes in global biodiversity and human societies are to be prevented.
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Debbie Wasserman Schultz has given up her last remaining duty at this week's convention. Now, she's told her hometown newspaper, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, that she will not gavel in the convention today. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will do the honors instead. "I have decided that in the interest of making sure that we can start the Democratic convention on a high note that I am not going to gavel in the convention," Wasserman Schultz said.
Perhaps this talk of unity has been overstated. Addressing a room full of his supporters today, Bernie Sanders heard "sustained boos" when he said he said it was essential that we elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.
The FBI this morning issued a statement saying it is "investigating a cyber intrusion involving the DNC," adding that "a compromise of this nature is something we take very seriously." Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton's campaign is suggesting that the hack "was committed by Russia to benefit Donald Trump."
A group of delegates loyal to Bernie Sanders is actively exploring how to challenge Tim Kaine's nomination for the vice presidency. A lead of the group "said he hoped the Democratic National Committee releases information within hours on how to submit a challenger to Kaine, which he said would require the signatures of 300 delegates. He said they have until Wednesday morning to file a challenge to Kaine and stressed that while his group would take any requests from the Sanders campaign under consideration, the delegate group is an independent organization."
Here are some more numbers out of Utah that should frighten Donald Trump—and give hope to Gary Johnson. "An internal poll conducted for Rep. Mia Love two weeks ago found Trump at 29 percent, Clinton at 27 percent" and Libertarian candidate Johnson at 26 percent. "That was, however, before Trump picked Indiana Gov. Mike Pence." Utah party chairman James Evans said that move ought to clinch the state for Trump. "Utahns are going to come through because the level of distaste for Hillary is so deep," he said.