Eden Hill Journal

Comments, dreams, stories, and rantings from a middle-aged native of Maine living on a shoestring and a prayer in the woods of Maine. My portion of the family farm is to be known as Eden Hill Farm just because I want to call it that and because that's the closest thing to the truth that I could come up with. If you enjoy what I write, email me or make a comment. If you enjoy Eden Hill, come visit.

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Location: Maine, United States

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Intense Definitions

None of the theaters that I know of in Maine are showing Al Gore's new film on greenhouse gasses, An Inconvenient Truth. When it comes out, inconveniently many of us Mainers will contribute to earth's greenhouse by driving many miles to see this show. Such is the sense of humor of the gods of irony.
It was in the news today that President Bush has little or no positive interest in the show. Gee, that's a surprise!
According to an AP article on MSNBC, Dana Perino, White House deputy press secretary, had this to say:
““The president noted in 2001 the increase in temperatures over the past 100 years and that the increase in greenhouse gases was due to certain extent to human activity... Since then he has committed tens of billions of dollars to the science and technology programs that he initiated and we are well on our way to meeting the president’s goal of reducing greenhouse intensity by 18 percent by 2012,”
So hey, that sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Until you ask what the White House definition of "intensity" is. In this case the definition is quite broad. The White House is measuring carbon dioxide emissions as a function of money, or more specifically as a function of the economy, of the GDP.
Conveniently, the US government maintains a table online that helps us better understand this concept. Carbon dioxide emissions as a function of GDP has been calculated since 1980 when it was 917 "metric tons carbon dioxide per million chained (2000) dollars." The figure declined every year except 1988, Reagan's last year, through 2003, the last year where data is presented in the table. Carbon dioxide emissions in 2003 were 557 "metric tons carbon dioxide per million chained (2000) dollars," a reduction of 40%.
Just for comparison, in 1980 Americans used 78.29 quadrillion BTUs of energy. In 2003, Americans used 98.31 quadrillion BTUs. That's an increase of over 25% in BTUs consumed by Americans. So from 1980 till 2003, we increased our energy consumption by 25% while decreasing our CO2 emissions per GDP by 40%. Cool. But my question then is did we increase or decrease CO2 emissions over that 23 year period of time?
Well, the GDP in chained (2000) dollars went from 5,161.7 to 10, 381.3, an increase of 100%. Shit, I think it's time to open up Excel. I'm losing track here...
What I come up with is a figure of 4.73 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions in 1980 and 5.78 billion in 2003, an increase of 22%. So, while we increased emissions by 22% between 1980 and 2003, we decreased the "intensity" of emissions by 40%.
Wow, huh!! I'm impressed!!
Well that changes the picture a little bit. If this is what Bush has been looking at, perhaps he should see Gore's show!

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