Op-Ed: Hurricane Ian and the coming climate crash
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, a study in my new book, “Tipping Point,” says we are on our way to a “climate crash.”
The book focuses on the climate crisis over the next decade, and is a warning from a former academic at the U.S. Department of State, who used to work on international climate issues. In this brief analysis, I explore how and why the climate crisis could accelerate, including the potential for a major new crash in global economic growth.
The climate crisis is a very important one.
At the beginning of the 20th century, there were only four nations in the world with annual emissions of CO2 (a greenhouse gas) that would cause temperature rise that would lead to dangerous weather. The U.S. used to have emissions of only about 6 to 8 gigatons each year. Now, we’re at 6.5 gigatons annually. The U.S. now has more per capita emissions per year than all the countries of the world except China.
Today, China’s per capita CO2 emissions are only about five times that of the U.S. This isn’t because China’s industrial emissions are four to five times higher. China’s emissions are only about half the size of U.S. and U.K. emissions. That’s one reason why the world’s CO2 emissions have doubled since the 1970s. The other reason is that China is now a low-carbon economy.
China currently has a low-carbon growth strategy that is about 25 percent slower than our country’s growth, driven by a rapidly increasing reliance on coal. With coal, it’s not as much an issue about emissions per person, but about how many tons of coal we can shove into our economy each year, versus how many tons of coal we can sell domestically. In 2015, we’ll have enough coal for about 2.6 percent of our population