According to recent reports, carbon emissions in the good old, God-fearing, science-wary Land of the Free have dropped down to their lowest levels since 1994.
This is largely down to energy saving technologies and an increased uptake in renewable materials.
Environmentalists have been hailing this story as a triumph, but in all honesty it should probably be classed as “less of a catastrophe than normal.”
Some of our readers may be a little young to fully remember the 90’s, but they were a different world. Smoking was still allowed in pubs. Fifty-pence pieces were twice as fat. Jimmy Savile had a TV show where he was allowed to sit kids on his knee and nobody seemed remotely concerned.
Also, very few people in the world really gave a shit about climate change.
The biggest environmental issue at the time was the depletion of the ozone layer due to CFCs in products like hairspray. “Hairspray” was something you used to style your hair, back before the non-determinal “product” became the ubiquitous term for any and all brands of scalp-solvent.
Way back then, people used a lot of hair spray. This picture of Cindy Crawford circa 1993 required the production of so many CFCs that it killed nine polar bears, and was, let’s be honest, still totally worth it.
Nobody except scientists and hard-core eco-types were really fretting about global warming in 1994, and as a result, we all spent our time attending local tyre-burning parties, or throwing cans and carboard boxes straight into landfill, or leaving our TVs on while we went out to shoot a panda.
Basically, people weren’t so hot on the whole “green” thing.
Over time, people like Al Gore have gone to great pains to explain that the planet is getting hotter and it’s our fault. Mr. Gore does this by flying all over the world, and then paying for the carbon he uses by giving money to a carbon-credit company that he himself owns, effectively paying himself not to use the fossil fuels that he’s using. This is, admittedly, a perfect example of a sustainable business, but not an overly tasteful way to make a point.
The point that the chubby, also-ran hypocrite is making, however, is an important one. The world is heating up due to carbon emissions.
Which is why many people were so happy that the U.S.A. has finally pulled its finger out and reduced carbon emissions to mid-nineties levels.
â˜› More 90’s Improvements: Hanson Singing MMMBop Now Sounds Better Than Hanson Singing MMMBop In The 90â€²s
On the one hand, this IS a positive step. There are fifty million more people in the U.S. since ’94, and they’re still managing to cut emissions.
At the same time, take a look at this 2009 graph showing CO2 emissions by nation, with predicted levels for the future:
The more awake among you might notice that in 1994, America was the biggest producer of carbon emissions in the world.
This is the level that they’ve managed to claw their way back to; a higher level than anyone else except present-day China and the rest of Asia. And incidentally, China and the rest of Asia? Fuck!
The overall picture to emerge from this supposedly encouraging news about U.S. emissions, then, is that America is still producing a massive amount of carbon, just slightly less massive than they have been recently. Meanwhile, China and Asia are stepping up their production to the point where the global emissions (and the key word in this whole process is “global”) are still ludicrously, suicidally huge.
It’s nice that America is making the effort. Really, it is. But the picture is still far from rosy. As a species, we’re not out of the woods yet.
Actually, we are out of the woods, but only because most of them have been chopped down.
We are, however, still up shit creek.