Some climatologists have been hoping to see a silver lining on the lead sinker of the economy. It had been hoped that poor economic conditions would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as industrial and activity and recreational travel decreased.
New measurements from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration show that’s not what’s happened. Unfortunately, emissions of carbon dioxide and methane and carbon dioxide increased last year. The only change from 2007 is that emissions of the gases increased at a slightly slower pace.
The lesson: Slowing the economy doesn’t provide much of a brake on greenhouse gas emissions. The world economy has gone into a backward movement, but the racecar of emissions has only reduced its speed from 120 mph to 115 mph.
The silver lining in this lack of a silver lining is that economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions might not be as directly associated as many people have suggested. It may be that an economic recession harms the ability of people to transition to environmentally sustainable activities, and encourages people to adopt pollution-heavy strategies for saving money, offsetting reductions in general economic activity. Put more positively, the right kind of economic growth could be associated with a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, encouraging people to gain economically by engaging in activities in a more efficient manner.