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CO2 Fool’s Errand, Part III

May 29, 2012

After struggling to cut CO2 emissions from the generation of electricity and from using gasoline, we turn to the remaining 40% of U.S. CO2 emissions.

There are emissions from airplanes, railroads, heating of homes and industry.

Of these remaining sources, industry is the largest and represents 18% of total U.S. CO2 emissions. These emissions come from manufacturing (which represent approximately 84% of emissions from industry), mining, construction, fisheries, agriculture and forestry.

While some companies have been able to make small reductions in CO2 emissions, cutting CO2 emissions 80% is a daunting task – in fact, I know of no magic solution.

Transportation, essentially, railroads, airplanes and shipping, account for 13% of U.S. CO2 emissions. Biofuels are touted as a possible solution, but they cost several times more than jet or diesel fuel, and there’s no proven means for large scale production of biofuels from algae, etc.

The residential sector accounts for around 6% of U.S. emissions, and this comes mainly from heating. Similarly the commercial sector accounts for only 4% of U.S. CO2 emissions, which includes schools, shopping malls, hospitals and office buildings.

Note that these do not include the use of electricity since CO2 emissions from generating electricity are dealt with separately.

As can be seen, the percentages get smaller and smaller. Even if CO2 emissions from the residential and commercial sectors were completely eliminated, it would have only a small effect on total U.S. CO2 emissions.

The absurdity of this CO2 fool’s errand can be seen when comparing per capita emissions.




CO2 Reduction

CO2 emissions 5018 MMT 1,000 MMT


Population 249 420  
Per capita emissions 20.2 Tons 2.4 Tons


The U.S. would have to cut per capita emissions from 20.2 tons to 2.4 tons, an 88% reduction, rather than the smaller 80% reduction in total emissions required by the United Nations.

Per capita emissions of 2.4 tons are essentially the level before the First World War, and at the turn of the twentieth century.

There were few cars, no airplanes to speak of, no air conditioning, no TVs, no washing machines or cloths driers, no refrigerators and no microwave ovens.

Every activity designed to cut CO2 emissions hurts Americans. These include,

  • Renewable portfolio standards (RPS)
  • Net metering and feed-in tariffs
  • Cap and trade
  • Biofuels
  • Wind and solar generation of electricity
  • Stopping the building of ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants

The best strategy for the United States is to promote economic growth and to curtail all efforts to cut CO2 emissions.


Note: The book, Carbon Folly (see ) contains more information.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 29, 2012 4:17 pm

    Reblogged this on acckkii and commented:
    Create opportunities for other consumption areas of fossil fuels is a worthy attempt. The goal is to control and limit the amount of ppm carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We are not going to change our lives for all models. Given the technical and economic conditions now, basically we do not have such a facility in which to do something that can lead to widespread unrest.

  2. May 29, 2012 4:59 pm

    Thanks for reblogging this article.

  3. June 7, 2012 1:57 pm

    Donn: you have laid out in three careful blogs the logical refutation of the economic fool’s errand that is CO2. Surely you know that there is also no scientific basis to support the hypothesis that human-produced CO2 (aka AGW) is forcing climate change.

  4. June 10, 2012 4:09 pm

    Yes. I agree. There is no scientific evidence that CO2 is a major cause of any warming or of climate change. The evidence very strongly suggests that natural forces are causing global warming and climate change. Climate is always changing so that term is totally irrelevant.

  5. Doug permalink
    December 21, 2016 11:09 pm

    I enjoy the common sense I find here. The Canadian government is planning a country wide mandatory Carbon Tax that in my opinion will have no effect on the enviroment due to our land mass and heavy forests.It is an unreasonable cash grab in an economic downturn. It will do nothing but cripple already hurting taxpayers.

    • December 22, 2016 9:35 am

      I appreciate your looking at this older post and commenting on it. The carbon tax doesn’t do very much except increase costs for ordinary citizens.

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