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CO2 since the start of the Industrial Revolution

graph with two lines, one showing annual atmospheric carbon dioxide and the other showing carbon dioxide emissions from 1750-2019

The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (raspberry line) has increased along with human emissions (blue line) since the start of the Industrial Revolution in 1750. Emissions rose slowly to about 5 billion tons a year in the mid-20th century before skyrocketing to more than 35 billion tons per year by the end of the century. NOAA Climate.gov graph, adapted from original by Dr. Howard Diamond (NOAA ARL). Atmospheric CO2 data from NOAA and ETHZ. CO2 emissions data from Our World in Data and the Global Carbon Project.

Source: https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-change-atmospheric-carbon-dioxide

  1. Patrick Newman
    June 18, 2021 at 11:49 am

    Every time someone goes on about the virtues of capitalism just tell them but it is destroying the planet and threatens the continuation of human existence.

  2. deshoebox
    June 18, 2021 at 3:17 pm

    I’m with Patrick. I can’t help feeling there should be two other lines on this chart. One would be the gross annual output of capitalist industrial economies. The second would be the gross annual output of hot air emitted by economists collectively and ingeniously rationalizing the workings of economies that simultaneously fail to meet the basic needs of people while also destroying the planet we depend on for life. But no, perhaps these two lines would be redundant. The four lines would be nearly identical.

    • Ken Zimmerman
      June 19, 2021 at 9:01 am

      CO2 in the atmosphere hasn’t been this high (ppm) for 14 million years. This is a field experiment with big stakes.

  3. Jamie
    June 18, 2021 at 6:10 pm

    Ecological economists have been noting the problem of targeting continuous growth for a long time, drawing on work by climate and Earth System scientists like Will Steffen:



  4. John Jensen
    June 18, 2021 at 6:33 pm

    Keep in mind that the global population more than tripled since 1950 and transportation is the greatest contributor to atmospheric CO2. So more likely, sex, travel and rock and roll were the major contributors to Climate Change. Capitalism hardly seems like the major cause of energy consumption and children. Had we all listened to Malthus, stopped over-reproducing in 1950, and stayed at home there might have been negligible CO2 increases since 1950. Capitalism is more likely the cause of the inequality crisis. Which I’m sure is why only capitalists would bother extolling the virtues of low taxes, fewer-regulations, free-trade, under-employment, plutocracy, poverty and trickle-down. And that reminds me that virtually nobody in Economics is promoting the economic virtues of socialism these days – are Economists just afraid of losing favour with the rich and pretty Capitalists, or what?

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