Tag Archives: emissions

US CO2 Output Up, and how to lie with graphs

Above is a graphic someone tossed at me on twitter the other day. It makes it look like CO2 emissions went way up then went way down so everything is fine. It is, of course, a lie, of sorts.

IT is actually kind of hard to find a graph just for US CO2 that goes back in historic time, but this graphic for the global energy industry clearly shows that the big picture is an upward trend:

Emission_by_Region - RRohde

The dip we see in recent years is simply an effect of the economy going bad, and things people do that emit CO2 being done somewhat less. Kevin Schultz wrote this up on his blog:

After a five-year decrease in the amount of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise again. The culprit: a rebounding economy.

CO2 emissions from fossil fuels rose 2.39 percent in 2013 compared with 2012 and grew 7.45 percent for the first two months of 2014 compared with the same period in 2013, according to new data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The jump puts an end to the annual decrease that had occurred from 2008 through 2012.

So be careful of that misleading graph, and keep working on reducing emission. This problem will not solve itself.