I was surprised to see the results in this Economist article, The deepest cuts. It provides a handy graph for showing which actions, policies or events have most contributed to the cessation of greenhouse gasses, cutting our impact on the warming of the planet. And the items on the graph, and their impacts, really took me for a loop.
I had to look up the first item: The Montreal Protocol is the series of worldwide laws that took chlorofluorocarbons out of our refrigerants… and look at the significance of that one act! The growth of hydro and nuclear power are also massively significant, and both sources of power have room to grow… especially if we can improve our nuclear power plants to thorium-based systems, and add other renewable sources, like wind and solar, to these figures.
Most of the rest of these areas of improvement, while notably small compared to the CFC and power plant numbers, are still significant… especially since we still have a long way to go to mitigate climate damage, and the big items like CFC removal are already done. This graph indicates better than anything else I’ve seen that conversion to more efficient power plants (and the accompanied closing of coal- wood- and oil-burning plants) would go a long way to improving our carbon situation.
I wouldn’t have expected to see China’s one-child policy listed herein, but there’s no doubt that it had a significant impact… a good lesson to any country that lets its population levels get too far out of hand. And it’s good to see that US vehicle emissions numbers are significant, and will hopefully get better as hybrids and electrics become more mainstream.
Overall, this is a great place to start national, regional and local conversations about what can be done to curb global warming. Does this graph, or the article, give you any ideas? Think about sharing them.